[Blog] Getting Away With the Murder of Journalists

The Committee to Protect Journalists has published its annual impunity index, the list of countries where attacks on and murder of journalists are most likely to go unpunished.

Iraq is once again listed top in the rankings, meaning it is the most dangerous place in the world to be a journalist.  In the past decade, 93 journalists have been killed and there have been no convictions.

Nigeria is new to to the index, following a steady rise in violence against journalists in recent years.  Those covering the activities of the extremist Muslim group Boko Haram are particularly vulnerable.

There are three other Commonwealth countries on the list: Sri Lanka, Pakistan and India.  However, two other Commonwealth countries – Bangladesh and Sierra Leone – have dropped off the index.

The entire Impunity Index report can be read on the CPJ website.  Other key findings include:

  • Ten of the 12 countries on the Impunity Index have been listed each year since CPJ began the annual analysis in 2008. Only Nigeria, which is new to the index this year, and Brazil, which had a one-year absence from the index, are exceptions. The static nature of the list highlights the challenges in reversing entrenched impunity and high rates of anti-press violence.
  • In addition to Nepal, two other nations—Bangladesh and Sierra Leone—have dropped off the Impunity Index in the years since CPJ launched the annual survey in 2008. In each case, declining levels of violence led to the changes in status.
  • Syria, despite the high number of recent journalist fatalities, does not appear on the index. CPJ research shows the large majority of fatalities there came in combat-related crossfire.
  • Local journalists were the victims in the vast majority of unsolved cases on CPJ’s index. Only 11 of the 265 murder cases on the index involve journalists working outside their own country.
  • Political reporting was the most dangerous beat. Thirty percent of the victims included on CPJ’s index covered political news. Another 20 percent reported on corruption, the second most dangerous topic.
  • Government and military officials are considered the leading suspects in 26 percent of murder cases on the index.
  • Responding to threats could save lives. In nearly half of the cases reviewed for the index, victims received death threats prior to their murders.
  • In dozens of cases, the killers clearly intended to send an intimidating message to the entire press corps. In 48 percent of cases in the index, the victims were abducted or tortured before being killed.

How can you help?  CPJ have an ongoing Speak Justice Campaign which offers suggested actions.

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