Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Getting away with murder

Photo: Manik Chandra Shaha (Khulna) and below Shamsur Rahman (Jessore) were silenced because they were journalists
CPJ’s 2010 Impunity Index spotlights countries where journalists are slain and killers go free
NEW YORK based International press watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) released the 2010 Impunity Index to coincide with an international summit on impunity which began on April 20 in New York, United States. The summit will convene press defenders and journalists from around the world to coordinate and improve strategies to reverse deadly violence against the press.

Deadly, unpunished violence against the press has soared in the Philippines and Somalia, the Committee to Protect Journalists has found in its newly updated Impunity Index, a list of countries where journalists are killed regularly and governments fail to solve the crimes. Impunity in journalist murders also rose significantly in Russia and Mexico, two countries with long records of entrenched, anti-press violence.

This is the third year CPJ has published its Impunity Index, which calculates the number of unsolved journalist murders as a percentage of a country’s population. In compiling the index, CPJ examined journalist murders in every nation in the world for the years 2000 through 2009. Cases are considered unsolved when no convictions have been obtained. Only those nations with five or more unsolved cases are included on the index, a threshold reached by 12 countries this year.

Two countries immersed in conflict top the list. Iraq is at number one with 88 unsolved journalist murders, while Somalia is second, reflecting insurgents’ routine use of violence to control the news media.

In many nations on the list, the plague of impunity is having a broader effect on society as a whole, effectively choking off the flow of news and information.

“We’ve heard repeated pledges from governments that the killers of journalists will face justice, but until these promises are fulfilled, media will continue to be targeted by those who believe they are above the law and immune from consequences,” said Joel Simon, CPJ’s executive director

Among the other findings in CPJ’s Impunity Index:
Impunity in media killings is acute in South Asia. Six nations in the region—Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India—are included on the 2010 list.

BANGLADESH
Bangladesh has been in a holding pattern. While no journalist murders have been reported since 2005, no convictions have been won in any of the seven unsolved killings perpetrated in the first half of the decade, when journalists faced heavy reprisals for their coverage of corruption, organized crime, and extremist groups. The most recent murder claimed the life of newspaper reporter Gautam Das, who was found strangled in his office in November 2005. Police arrested several suspects in the case, but to date none have been convicted.

Impunity Index Rating: 0.044 unsolved journalist murders per 1 million inhabitants.
Last year: Ranked 12th with a rating of 0.044



Population data sources:
Unless otherwise indicated, 2009 World Development Indicators, World Bank
* World Population Prospects 2008, United Nations Population Division