Killing in silence: Monitoring the role of organized crime in contract killings MEDIA KIT

As organized crime has become increasingly transnational, so have contract killings. Criminal groups target competitors in the fight for control over territory or illicit supply chains. They use assassinations to eliminate those who work against them or oppose them, often activists, journalists, politicians, members of the legal profession and law enforcement.

We have developed and will maintain a global database of assassinations to ensure there is a reliable and regular means to monitor what is regrettably becoming a global phenomenon. This database, which will sit in the public domain, allows estimates of the scale of the problem, and allows trends to be analyzed. The global monitor creates an irrefutable evidence basis upon which action can be demanded from states and multilateral bodies to respond.

– Mark Shaw, director of the GI-TOC

The report

The results of this global analysis of assassination are presented in the forthcoming report Killing in Silence: Monitoring the role of organized crime in contract killings. The global analysis in this report provides a first stepping stone in highlighting areas for further research and better responses to this crime, such as investigating links between the illicit firearms trade and how that relates to assassinations; strengthen investigatory and adjudicatory capacities; bolster corporate responsibility; engage with civil society to build a relationship of trust; and provide protection for activists.

The data suggests that assassinations are highly clustered in several ways. They are clustered geographically, with high concentrations in the Americas and Asia, for example. Data suggests that contract killings tend to flourish in environments where there is a strong presence of organized crime, power struggles, corruption and violence. They are also clustered around certain target groups, often activists and politicians. Particularly, they cluster around specific motives or drivers, often related to political or economic interests. The findings reveal the strength of some criminal groups and the way which organized crime is embedded in political and economic institutions.

Online tool

The report’s findings are supported by a data visualization tool, the Global Assassination Monitor, a new data set built by the GI-TOC to track assassinations worldwide between 1 January 2019 and 31 December 2020.

The Global Assassination Monitor is an event database, covering assassinations reported in the press between 2019 and 2020. Following a standardized data-collection methodology, it allows for comparisons across space and over time.

No data on contract killings on a global scale has previously been collected or presented in this way. The Monitor is a first attempt at highlighting underlying patterns and trends relating to assassinations at global, regional and national levels and the often transnational links between these crimes.

The tool will be available at assassination.globalinitiative.net on the day of the launch (17 November 2021, 3PM CET).

Press release

We welcome interest from journalists and media organisations to cover our campaign in the news.

If you want to read the press release, please click the button below.


The public launch of the tool will take place virtually on November 17.

Email release

Emails will be sent to our dedicated distribution list, covering both pre-launch and post-launch moments, featuring progress and important updates of the #AssassinationWitness campaign.

By subscribing to the dedicated newsletter, you'll receive regular updates about the campaign's progress and news on how to get involved, as well as a way to participate in our launch event.

Pre-prepared tweets for the document launch

You are encouraged to share our campaign's contents on your social media channels.

At least 2 700 people in 84 countries were victims of contract killings in 2019–2020. GI-TOC's groundbreaking new database highlights how contract killings are often intertwined with organized crime. #assassinationwitness www.assassination.globalinitiative.net
After years of bearing witness to the great impact of assassinations, GI-TOC's new report assembles findings on targeted killings across the world. #assassinationwitness www.assassination.globalinitiative.net
According to The Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime (GI-TOC)’s new report, highest numbers of targeted killings were recorded in the Americas and Asia. #assassinationwitness www.assassination.globalinitiative.net


The Assassination Monitor marks a new phase in the GI-TOC’s Assassination Witness campaign, which launched in June 2020 to bear witness to the victims of targeted killings and contribute to the global effort to make the work of anti-corruption activists, lawyers, journalists and human rights defenders around the world safer.

The book released last year assembled 50 profiles of those who have been assassinated by criminal groups since the start of the millennium. It is a compilation of men and women who have been murdered because they confronted, weakened or threatened criminal groups.

The publication was a springboard for the Global Monitor that will continue to increase public awareness of the assassination of civil-society figures by the forces of organized crime worldwide and ensure the sacrifice made by those who are lost to targeted killings is never forgotten.