October 28, 2016
NEW YORK - Some of the highest rates of impunity in the murders of journalists can be attributed to killings by Islamist militant groups, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) found in its latest annual Global Impunity Index, released Thursday.
At top of the list — which spotlights countries where journalists are murdered and their killers go free — are Somalia, Iraq, and Syria, where extremist organizations such as the Islamic State group and Al-Shabaab have repeatedly targeted journalists for murder. Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, and Pakistan also appear on the index for at least the second consecutive year.
Local officials and criminal groups also frequently murder journalists in retaliation for their work without facing justice, in index countries such as Brazil, Mexico, Philippines, and Russia.
Sri Lanka, where violence against journalists has receded since the end of a decades-long civil war, dropped off the index for the first time since CPJ began calculating it in 2008.
“Impunity in the murders of journalists emboldens would-be killers and forces the media to operate in a climate of fear, which in turn restricts information available to the public,” said Elisabeth Witchel, author of the report and CPJ's consultant for the Global Campaign Against Impunity. “States need to urgently address this situation with robust mechanisms to protect, investigate, and prosecute when journalists are threatened or attacked.”
The Impunity Index, published annually to mark the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists on November 2, calculates the number of unsolved murders over a 10-year period as a percentage of each country’s population. The report includes a statistical table and report cards for each country on the index.
The index takes note of some positive developments. Prosecutions of killers have taken place in six countries on this year’s index, compared with three last year. All but three countries on this year’s index also participated in UNESCO’s impunity accountability mechanism, which requests information on the status of investigations into killed journalists for the U.N. agency’s biennial report on journalist safety. In previous years, half of the countries on the index ignored this process. This year, only India, South Sudan, and Syria failed to respond. - CPJ media release
Image: IS militants/AFP
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