30 journalists killed by organized crime in past two years, watchdog RSF reports

AFP-JIJI

Journalists are increasingly becoming easy targets for organised crime, with more than 30 killed worldwide over the last two years, a media watchdog warned Thursday.

“The Mob has spread its tentacles around the globe faster than all the multinationals combined,” Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said in a new report on the dangers.

“From Beijing to Moscow, from Tijuana to Bogota, from Malta to Slovakia, investigative journalists who shed light on the deals that involve organized crime unleash the wrath of gangsters, whose common feature is an aversion to any publicity unless they control it,” said its author, French investigative journalist Frederic Ploquin.

He said the only way to counter the threat was for reporters to work together to protect each other.

The biggest danger was in investigating corruption, Ploquin said, now that ruthless crime groups have “established a kind of pact with the state” in many countries, “to the point that you cannot tell where one stops and the other begins.”

“How is it possible that Mexico’s drug cartels sprout like mushrooms without the support of part of the state’s apparatus?” asked RSF after nine of the 14 journalists murdered worldwide in 2017 by organized crime groups were killed in Mexico.

Eight more have already died so far in 2018.

Three reporters were also killed this year in Brazil and three more elsewhere in Latin America. An Indian journalist who was investigating his country’s “sand mafia” was run over by a truck.

The toll has also become worrying in Europe, the report said, with journalists assassinated in Russia, Slovakia and Malta since 2017.

Both Daphne Caruana Galizia, killed last year in by a car bomb in Malta, and Jan Kuciak, shot with his girlfriend in Slovakia in February, had been looking into the Italian Mafia and its links with local politicians.

In 2017 alone, 196 Italian journalists were said to have had some kind of protection, with a dozen including Roberto Saviano, the author of the bestselling book “Gomorroa” on the Naples crime syndicate the Camorra, living under permanent police guard.