Since the beginning of 2017, more than 30 journalists have been killed by the organized crime in the world, as to the report unveiled today in Paris by the Reporters without borders.
“Journalists who cover dangerous subjects such as organized crime often find themselves alone and vulnerable in face of reprisals”, RSF secretary general Christophe Deloire said, presenting the report named “Journalists: the bête noire of organized crime“ .
Organized crime knows no borders. Europe is not spared. At least, two of its investigative journalists have been murdered in connection to their work in the past two years: Daphne Caruana Galizia, blown up a bomb under her car in Malta in October 2017, Jan Kuciak, shot dead at his home in Slovakia, together with his fiancée in February 2018. Both of these journalists had taken an interest in Italian mafia’s activity in their own countries, in particular, shady financial dealings allegedly involving local businessmen and politicians, as to RSF. In Italy, Roberto Saviano is one of a total ten journalists who are protected day and night by police bodyguards. Paolo Borrometti, the target of a mafia murder plot in Sicily this year, is another. In all, more than 200 Italian journalists received some kind of police protection last year.
At least ten journalists have been killed by organized crime this year in Brazil, Colombia and Mexico, where the drug cartels hold sway. The actual figure could be much higher because criminals and politicians often ally against journalists and impunity reigns in the countries. In India, Cambodia and some African countries, criminal groups make a fortune from breaking all environmental rules in order to plunder the natural resources. Journalists who shed light on trafficking in minerals, timber and petroleum are exposed to terrible reprisals. Sandeep Sharma, an Indian journalist who investigated a local ‘sand mafia’ was deliberately run down and killed by a dumper truck in March.
The journalists who investigated the organized crime worldwide are subjected to many of threats and reprisals, as they RSF concluded. During several months the RSF investigated the issue and interviewed many targeted journalists, their colleagues and families. The only choice for reporters who uncover facts about organized crime is often between saying nothing and risking their lives.
In the face of such violence, some journalists have given up. This was the painful decision that the owner of the Mexican newspaper Norte de Ciudad Juarez took after one of his top reporters, Miroslava Breach, was murdered last year. Others, such as Pavla Holcova, a Czech journalist who collaborated with Kuciak, wield their pens as defensive weapens, regarding their coverage of this or that criminal group’s illegal activities as the best way of protecting themselves. But this means teaming up with other journalists in order to reduce the risks.