Violence against environmental journalists rises, UNESCO says

FILE PHOTO: A man rides past journalists reporting on the aftermath of the Shady Fire after it advanced into the Skyhawk neighborhood of Santa Rosa

By Natalia A. Ramos Miranda

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Journalists who report on environmental issues face increasing violence around the world from both state and private actors, UNESCO said on Thursday, highlighting that 44 of these journalists have been murdered between 2009 and 2023.

More than 70% of the 905 journalists the agency surveyed in 129 countries said they had been attacked, threatened or pressured, and that the violence against them had worsened - with 305 attacks reported in the last five years alone.

UNESCO, the U.N. cultural agency, listed in its report physical attacks such as injuries, arrests and harassment, as well as legal actions, including defamation lawsuits and criminal proceedings, among others.

At least 749 journalists, groups of journalists and media outlets have been attacked in 89 countries across all regions, its report said, with state actors being responsible for at least half and private for at least a quarter.

"State actors - police, military forces, government officials and employees, local authorities - are responsible for most of the attacks for which perpetrator information is available," the report said.

These journalists were covering a wide range of topics, including protests, mining and land conflicts, logging and deforestation, extreme weather events, pollution and environmental damage, and the fossil fuel industry.

Men were more frequently attacked in general and women more frequently digitally, the report said.

Of the 44 journalists that were murdered in 15 countries while reporting on environmental issues, the report said only five cases resulted in convictions. Perpetrators remain unidentified in 19 of the 44 murders.

At least 24 journalists survived murder attempts.

(Reporting by Natalia Ramos; Writing by Stefanie Eschenbacher; Editing by Sonali Paul)