A total of 119 journalists were killed while on assignment so far in calendar year 2012, according to the International Press Institute based in Vienna, Austria, in a report released on Thursday.
The IPI report, when compared with previous reports, reveals that for journalists 2012 already has the highest death toll since the IPI started keeping track in 1997.
"It is deeply disturbing that in spite of a clear increase in international efforts to stop attacks against journalists, this year's death toll is the highest on IPI record," said IPI Deputy Director Anthony Mills. "The killing of a journalist is the ultimate, most callous, chilling form of censorship. Unless we are able to roll back the cynical tide of impunity, these killings will continue."
According to the report, 36 journalists were killed this year in Syria, making it the most hazardous nation in the world for reporters and photographers to cover.
After Syria, Somalia is also dangerous for journalists, the IPI said, with 16 deaths in 2012, followed by Mexico, Pakistan, and the Philippines. Not one of the perpetrators has been brought to justice.
"The deadliest country this year was Syria, where 36 journalists and dozens more media activists have been killed, confirming the alarming trend, which IPI has witnessed in most conflicts of the past 15 years, in which journalists are targeted to prevent distribution of information that may compromise the propaganda efforts of the parties in conflict," the report states.
Mexico, Pakistan and the Philippines also remained dangerous places for journalists to work this year. Seven journalists were killed so far this year in Mexico, five of them in the state of Veracruz, which has been the deadliest region in Mexico for the news media since 2006, according to the IPI.
Most journalists were mortally wounded covering armed conflicts involving Muslim terrorists, insurgents and regimes, except for Mexico where the violence is attributed to the drug trade.
The press watchdog group stated it has observed an "alarming trend" of journalists being deliberately targeted, often in an effort to prevent information disclosure.
A two-day conference on Thursday and Friday attended by United Nations organizations as well as NGOs (Non-Government Organizations) is expected to address the subject of journalist safety and security and how news organizations and governments may help to make working environments for journalists less dangerous.