While the number of journalists killed in countries at war continues to fall, more are being murdered in countries not at war
Many were killed for trying to expose crime and corruption.
The review shows that journalists are increasingly being targeted and killed because of their work. Some 84% of journalists killed this year were deliberately targeted, up from 63% in 2019.
This year's data covers January 1 to December 15.
Journalists publishing investigative stories were particularly vulnerable to attacks.
Ten journalists were killed after publishing investigations into cases of local corruption or misuse of public funds and four were killed for their stories on organized crime. Meanwhile, in what RSF noted as a new trend in 2020, seven journalists were killed while covering protests.
The report notes a worrying increase in the killings of media workers in countries considered to be "at peace." In 2020, 68% of journalists killed were working in countries that were not at war.
"Some may think that journalists are just the victims of the risks of their profession, but journalists are increasingly targeted when they investigate or cover sensitive subjects. What is being attacked is the right to be informed, which is everyone's right," Christophe Deloire, secretary-general of RSF, said in a statement according to foreign meida reports.
Mexico was the deadliest nation for journalists in 2020, with eight reporters killed.
Iraq was the second-deadliest country, with six deaths, followed by Afghanistan, with five. India and Pakistan were an equal fourth, each reporting the deaths of four journalists.
In Mexico, Julio Valdivia Rodríguez, a reporter for the daily El Mundo, was found beheaded in the eastern state of Veracruz, while Víctor Fernando Álvarez Chávez, the editor of the local news website Punto x Punto Noticias, was cut to pieces in the western city of Acapulco.
In India, Rakesh “Nirbhik” Singh, a reporter for the Rashtriya Swaroop newspaper, was burned alive in December after being doused with a highly flammable, alcohol-based hand sanitiser in his home in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh by men allegdly sent by a local official whose corrupt practices he had criticised, while Isravel Moses, a TV reporter in the southeastern state of Tamil Nadu, was hacked to death with machetes.
In Iran, it was the state that acted as executioner. Rouhollah Zam, the editor of the Amadnews website and Telegram news channel, was hanged after being sentenced to death in an unfair trial according to the report. Although executions are common in Iran, it was the first time in 30 years that a journalist has been subjected to death in this manner.
In Iraq, three journalists were killed in exactly the same way - shot to the head fired by unidentified gunmen while they were covering protests. A fourth was killed in Iraq’s northern Kurdistan region while trying to flee from clashes between security forces and demonstrators.
In Nigeria, two journalists fell victim to the climate of violence accompanying protests, especially protests against the brutality of a police unit tasked with combating crime. In Colombia, a reporter for a community radio station was fatally shot while covering an indigenous community protest against the privatisation of local land that was violently dispersed by regular police, riot police and soldiers.