This is turning out to be another deadly year for journalists around the world.
Already in 2015, 44 journalists have been murdered or died in crossfire killings, according to the International Federation of Journalists’ chilling Kill List. That’s 44 men and women killed on the job – too often killed just for doing their job.
It is for them that we mark World Press Freedom Day this Sunday, May 3.
The year barely began when Moises Sanchez Cerezo, editor of La Union newspaper in Mexico, was abducted from his home and killed, his body dumped in the countryside.
Cerezo had made enemies of local police and politicians for exposing ties between them and drug dealers. Several local police and the mayor himself are now facing charges – due, in large part, to the bravery of Cerezo’s fellow journalists, who protested in the streets until authorities took the killing seriously.
Just days later, armed gunmen rushed into the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, killing 12 people. It was the second time in four years the magazine and its staff were targeted, and the attack unleashed a wave of support for freedom of the press – including marches through the streets of Paris that attracted world leaders.
It is easy to take solace from such shows of support and solidarity, but too often the perpetrators of such crimes escape with impunity. In the last 10 years, more than 700 journalists have been murdered for doing their jobs, the United Nations reports, but only one in 10 cases led to a conviction.
The truth is, around the world, it’s too easy to kill a journalist and silence his or her voice – too easy for those who don’t want the truth to be known to make sure the truth is never heard. And, for every journalist killed, more are intimidated into silence or self-censorship.
Breaking that silence and ensuring the safety of journalists around the world is why we mark World Press Freedom Day every year.