The Committee to Protect Journalists says 34 of the 53 journalists killed on duty so far this year around the world were "singled out for murder." They include Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi who was killed in Istanbul by a hit squad sent from Riyadh.

Members of the Arab-Turkish Media Association and friends hold pictures of Jamal Khashoggi as they attend funeral prayers in absentia on November 16, 2018 for the slain journalist and Saudi critic who was murdered by a hit squad sent from Riyadh on October 2 at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.
Members of the Arab-Turkish Media Association and friends hold pictures of Jamal Khashoggi as they attend funeral prayers in absentia on November 16, 2018 for the slain journalist and Saudi critic who was murdered by a hit squad sent from Riyadh on October 2 at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. (AP Archive)

The number of journalists killed around the world in reprisal for their work nearly doubled in 2018 to at least 34 people, reflecting an increase in deliberate attacks on journalists in Afghanistan, according to a report released on Wednesday.

That was up sharply from 18 murdered for their work in 2017, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

The jump this year reflects 10 reporters killed in Afghanistan, as well as four journalists slain in a June attack at Maryland's Capital Gazette newspaper.

The CPJ included the killing of Jamal Khashoggi in the list of murders, blaming his death on the lack of international leadership when it comes to the safety of journalists. A critic of the Saudi government, Khashoggi was murdered in Istanbul on October 2 by a hit squad sent from Riyadh.

So far 53 journalists have been killed this year in their line of work.

The number 53 counts the journalists who died on the job worldwide from Janurary 1 through December 14. It includes those killed inadvertently in combat or on other dangerous assignments – a 13 percent increase from 47 deaths in 2017, said the CPJ, a US nonprofit that promotes press freedom.

The CPJ cited insufficient international standards for journalists' rights as another reason for the uptick in murders.

Trump criticised over Khashoggi's case

The report criticised US President Donald Trump's refusal to blame Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the murder of Khashoggi, a US resident and Washington Post columnist, despite a CIA assessment that the crown prince had ordered the killing.

The CPJ said Trump's stand signalled a dangerous lack of leadership in the protection of journalists.

The spike includes the deadliest attack on the US media in recent history, when a gunman who had filed a failed defamation lawsuit against the Capital Gazette newspaper in Maryland killed four journalists and a sales associate in June.

The CPJ included the four slain journalists in its total of 34 reporters murdered during the year. The slain sales associate factored into a separate tally of seven media support workers who died on the job in 2018, down from eight in 2017.

Sixty-two percent of the journalists killed covered politics, which the report deemed the most dangerous beat.

Last week, the CPJ reported that a near-record number of journalists around the world are in prison this year because of their work, including two Reuters reporters in Myanmar.

Khashoggi, the reporters at the Capital Gazette, and the imprisoned Reuters' journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were featured last week in Time Magazine's 'Person of the Year' issue, honouring "The Guardians and the War on Truth."

Source: Reuters