Twelve journalists were killed in Latin America during 2015 according to the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
Brazil proved to be the third deadliest country in the world for journalists last year, with a recorded six murders of journalists targeted because of their work. Mexico was named the eighth deadliest country with four murders.
In November, two men on a motorcycle gunned down Ítalo Diniz, 30, a Brazilian blogger critical of local government. According to The Guardian, prior to his murder, Diniz – who became the sixth journalist to be murdered in Brazil last year – had received death threats in relation to his work.
Diniz’s murder came just four days after a radio reporter, Israel Gonçalves Silva, was shot dead in the north eastern state of Pernambuco. CJP reports that Silva hosted a radio program which took calls from listeners about alleged corruption, and that he conducted interviews with local officials about controversial issues.
Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior programme coordinator for the Americas, said: “Journalists in Brazil must be able to report the news without fear of reprisal. Instead, deadly violence is silencing critical voices and seriously limiting the ability of Brazilians to engage in vigorous discussion on issues of public interest.
A 24-year-old Mexican photojournalist Rubén Espinosa Becerril was found dead in his apartment in Mexico City in July. He had been shot in the head, along with four female friends, including a human rights activist, Nadia Vera.
Espinosa – who worked for media outlets such as the Mexican magazine Proceso and the photo agency Cuartoscuro – fled his home in the state of Veracruz for Mexico City in June. In an interview with the CPJ in June, Espinosa revealed that on three occasions he had seen people outside his home in Veracruz making threatening gestures.
According to Yahoo news, Espinosa’s death led to a group of prominent writers and intellectuals – including novelists Salman Rushdie and Margaret Atwood – urging the Mexican government to improve safety for the country’s journalists.
Mexico and Brazil were also the only two countries in Latin America to be included in CPJ’s 2015 Global Impunity Index.
According to CPJ, in Mexico, 19 journalists have been murdered with ‘complete impunity’ within the last decade, and in Brazil, there are 11 unsolved murders of journalists.
Other countries in the region have also witnessed the murder of their journalists in 2015.
Last year, Colombian Flor Alba Núñez Vargas and Guatemalan Danilo López were both killed because of their jobs. A further two murders in Colombia, and one in Guatemala, also occurred, but the motive for each was unconfirmed.
2015 also proved to be the deadliest year this decade for journalists worldwide.
CPJ reports that worldwide 69 journalist were killed because of their profession.
According to statistics published by Reporters Without Borders (RWB) in December, a total of 110 journalists were killed last year. While 67 died in line of duty, 43 were killed in situations where the motives were unclear.
RWB states that almost two-thirds of these deaths occurred in countries’at peace’, and regarding the 43 deaths, questions remain over whether they were in fact killed in relation to their work.
The French-based international organisation is now calling on the United Nations to take action.
Christophe Deloire, RWB Secretary-General, said that “the 110 journalists killed [in 2015] need a response that matches the emergency. A special representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for the safety of journalists must be appointed without delay”.