Fifty-four journalists were killed around the world for doing their job in 2018, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists – a sobering reminder of the dangers journalists face while doing their jobs. Of them, 34 were murdered, an 88 per cent increase from the year prior.
Underscoring the issues, a spokesperson for Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador tweeted on Thursday that Telesforo Santiago Enriquez, one of the country’s radio journalists, was found dead with gunshot wounds outside a vehicle on Thursday.
According to Reporters Without Borders, the deadliest countries to practice journalism in 2018 were Afghanistan, Syria, Mexico and Yemen. The U.S. was added to the worst offenders list for the first time in the history of Reporters Without Borders, tying with India in fifth place.
For World Press Freedom Day, here are the stories of five journalists recently murdered for doing their jobs.
Abadullah Hananzai was a video journalist with the Afghan branch of the Radio Free EuropeRadio Liberty service when he was killed in a double suicide bomb attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, in April 2018 that left more than 25 people dead.
Hananzai, who covered drug trafficking and addiction in Afghanistan, was killed in the second blast. The perpetrator disguised himself as a journalist and detonated his explosives while embedded within a larger group of reporters.
Police in Kabul said that the suicide bomber deliberately targeted reporters. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Leonardo Gabriel Hernandez
Leonardo Gabriel Hernandez covered politics and social issues as the host of a local television program called El Pueblo Habla (The People Speak) on the Valle TV channel in Honduras.
In March 2019, he was shot dead near his home in broad daylight. Police in Honduras said that they believe he was targeted because of the work he did exploring organized crime groups in the country. They arrested two members of the MS-13 gang in connection with the murder.
Long before his murder, Hernandez is alleged to have received threats to his life because of his work, according to the investigative journalism group Reporteros de Investigacion. It reported that his request to benefit from Honduras’ national protection mechanism for journalists and human rights defenders was denied, a claim the government denies.
Wendi Waters, a community correspondent for the Capital Gazzette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland, was among the five employees of the newspaper who were shot to death in what police called a “targeted attack.”
Police arrested Jarrod Ramos in connection with the June 2018 shooting, charging him with five counts of first-degree murder. On May 1, he entered an insanity plea.
Police said that Ramos had previously filed an unsuccessful defamation lawsuit against the paper about a story it reported about a criminal harassment case against Ramos tied to his stalking of a former classmate on Facebook. He also issued death threats against some of the reporters at the Gazzette.
The Pulitzer Prize Board awarded the paper a special citation for its coverage of the newsroom massacre.
Jan Kuciak was an investigative reporter in Slovakia who was fatally shot along with his fiancée, Martina Kusnirova, in his apartment.
Police detained a number of people in connection with the murder following a series of raids. Earlier this year, they charged Marian Kocner, a Slovak businessman, with ordering his murder.
Kuciak reported on tax evasion and fraud, particularly involving prominent Slovak businesspeople and others connected to the country’s ruling party and its prime minister. At the time of his murder, he was investigating connections between Slovak businessmen and the notorious Italian organized crime group, ‘Ndrangheta.
Prosecutors tied the murder to the reporting.
Slovakia’s then-prime minister, Robert Fico, resigned more than two weeks after the murder, which sparked political turmoil and public protests.
Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. resident and Washington Post contributing columnist, was brutally murdered in the Saudi consulate in Turkey in October 2018. He was visiting the consulate in order to complete paperwork so that he could marry his fiancée, who was waiting for him outside.
Various intelligence agencies around the world, including the Central Intelligence Agency, believe a team of Saudi forensic experts and security officials – many with close ties to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman – carried out the murder. The Crown Prince, who has offered equivocating explanations for the murder, is believed to have ordered it, according to the Associated Press.
In response to the murder, Finland, Germany and Denmark halted the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia. U.S. President Donald Trump initially promised “severe punishment” for the perpetrators, but has since declined to impose sanctions on Saudi Arabia or to ban weapons sales. The U.S. Senate passed a resolution in December 2018 holding bin Salman responsible. Canada also raised the possibility of halting arms sales to Saudi Arabia, but has not.
Khashoggi’s body has never been recovered.
Saudi Arabia said that five suspects now face the death penalty in connection with the killing.