Iraq the worst country for unsolved murders of journalists

The Committee to Protect Journalists reveals unsolved murders of journalists around the world.

New Statesman
Iraqis hold up a portrait of the murdered journalist Hadi al-Mehdi at a demonstration against his killing. Photo: Getty Images

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has released its annual Impunity Index which ranks Iraq the worst country for unsolved journalist murders for the fifth year running.

The study, which measures the murders as a percentage of each country's population, documents 93 unsolved murders over the last decade and highlights the increasingly worrying situation for journalists in Iraq. The CPJ analysed murders that took place between 1 January 2002 and 31 December 2011.

Violence against the press in Pakistan and Mexico has also soared, according to the index. Both countries ranked worse than they were last year, with Pakistan's place deteriorating for the fourth consecutive year and Mexico for the third.

Najam Sethi, editor of The Friday Times of Lahore, told the CPJ of the threats faced by Pakistani journalists "from murderous Taliban, violent sectarian parties, and intolerant religious and ethnic groups."

The danger journalists face in Mexico was highlighted after the decapitation of Maria Elizabeth Macias Castro in September last year. Javier Garza, deputy editor of the Mexican daily El Siglo de Torreon, told the CPJ that gunmen have attacked his newspaper's offices twice in the past four years, crimes for which no-one has been arrested. He said: "These attacks made it clear to us that we can't trust the authorities for protection."

Somalia ranks second in the index for the third year in a row. The Philippines and Sri Lanka follow in third and fourth place respectively.

Rodney Pinder, Director of the International News Safety Institute, said:

Impunity is behind most of news media murders around the world. In 9 out of 10 journalist killings no one is brought to justice. Impunity means murder in many countries because it is an effective and risk-free form of censorship. Freedom of information is not to be stifled - countries must investigate journalists' murders with the same commitment as those of any citizen and bring the perpetrators to justice.

 

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