A total of 49 journalists were killed worldwide in 2019, Reporters Without Borders (RSF-according to its French initials) said on Tuesday. Though numbers in conflict-ridden countries have come down, the same has gone up in countries considered peaceful. Mexico had the highest number, with 14 journalists have died in 2019.

'Journalism remains a dangerous profession': RSF

The number of journalists killed in 2019 (49), remains lowest in the last 16 years. The figures appear impressive, given the average of journalists killed in two decades is as high as 80. The numbers have come down as deaths had reduced drastically in war-torn countries, such as Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan. But it is exactly the opposite in countries which are considered peaceful.

"Latin America, with a total of 14 reporters killed across the continent, has become as deadly as the Middle East", RSF's head Christophe Deloire said, AFP reported. While he said that the fall in the number of fatalities in conflict zones was something to celebrate, "more and more journalists are being assassinated for their work in democratic countries, which is a real challenge to democracy".

Syria is second in the list

Mexico was followed by Syria, with nine deaths; which in turn was followed by Pakistan with five deaths. Among the south-east Asian nations, the only country where journalists were killed is the Philippines, which recorded three deaths.

Though number of reporters being killed has reduced in 2019, those being incarcerated has increased. With 389 journalists been put behind bars in 2019, the number has gone up by 12 per cent, since last year. Nearly half of them were imprisoned in China, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. "China, which has intensified its repression of the (mostly Muslim) Uighur minority, alone holds a third of the journalists locked up in the world," RSF said.

57 journalists were held as hostages, mostly in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Ukraine."There has been no notable freeing of hostages this year despite major developments in Syria," the RSF said.

About Reporters Without Borders

Reporters Without Borders, known as Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF), is a Paris-based international non-profit, non-governmental organization, that conducts political advocacy on issues relating to freedom of information and freedom of the press.