CPJ warns about the "uncontrollable cycle" of impunity in unsolved journalist murders

"When a single journalist is killed without justice, the message to all journalists is either watch what you say or watch your back," said Elisabeth Witchel
Candles in the form of a cross – Photo: Wolfgang Rattay/REUTERS
04/11/2017
17:19
EFE
New York
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The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) warned about the "uncontrollable cycle" of impunity that can result from the absence of justice in cases of murder of journalists.

On Tuesday, CPJ published the tenth edition of its Global Impunity Index, which classifies the countries where murders of journalists remain unsolved after a decade.

"Impunity is a chokehold on society's free flow of information. When a single journalist is killed without justice, the message to all journalists is either watch what you say or watch your back," said Elisabeth Witchel, author of the report and CPJ's Consultant for the Global Campaign Against Impunity.

"States on this list must not tolerate impunity year after year but actively take measures to address their failures of justice,” she added.

According to the report, “impunity thrives in conflict environments, where powerful actors often use violent intimidation to control media coverage, while weak-to-nonexistent law and order increase the likelihood of attacks.”

In Somalia, the worst country in the index, more than two dozen journalists were murdered in the past decade and represent "one casualty of prolonged civil war and an insurgency waged by al-Shabaab extremists."

The African country has been listed every year in the CPJ index since the beginning of its publication in 2008. The others are India, Iraq, Mexico, Pakistan, the Philippines and Russia, countries that bill themselves as democracies, yet have repeatedly appeared on the index-government as officials and criminal groups go unpunished for murdering journalists in high numbers.

CPJ pointed out that, just last year, there were new cases of murder in 6 of the 12 countries that make up the index, “a testimony to the powerful cycle of impunity and violence.”

CPJ, which publishes this index for the International Day to End the Impunity of Crimes against Journalists (November 2), highlighted as a "positive trend" of the last decade the greater awareness of impunity in the murders of journalists.

In this regard, they recalled that the United Nations has adopted five resolutions that urge countries to take measures to promote justice, and this year marks the fifth anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.

During the 10 years of publication of the Global Impunity Index, Somalia's indicator of impunity has soared by 198%, followed by Mexico (142%), Pakistan (113%) and India (100%).

Although they were not included in the index all those years, they also experienced huge increases in Syria (up 195%) and Brazil (up 177%).

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