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Nigeria, South Sudan among countries where journalists’ killers go free

(Elisabeth Witchel, CPJ)

Nigeria, South Sudan and Somalia have been included in the global list of countries where killers of journalists get away with murder.  The list is part of a report titled 2016 Global Impunity Index, which was released this week by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Other countries cited by the report include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Brazil, Mexico, Syria, India, Iraq and Russia.

Some of the highest rates of impunity in the murders of journalists can be attributed to killings by Islamist militant groups, the report, which highlights only nations with five or more unsolved cases, said.

The worst country for the second year in a row is Somalia, where the militant group al-Shabaab is suspected in the majority of media murders. The troubled Horn of Africa nation is followed by Iraq and Syria, where members of the militant group Islamic State murdered at least six journalists in the past year.

Extremist groups have also repeatedly targeted journalists with impunity in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, and Pakistan, which all appear on the index for at least the second consecutive year, the New York-based media watchdog said.

At the same time, violence perpetrated against journalists by criminal groups and local officials allowed impunity to tighten its grip in Latin America, with Brazil and Mexico each moving two spots higher on the index this year.

The Impunity Index, published annually to mark the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists on November 2.

Impunity is widely recognized as one of the greatest threats to press freedom, and international pressure to address it has mounted in recent years, with states, including some of the repeat offenders on this list, beginning to respond.

Six countries on the index, Bangladesh, Brazil, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia and Somalia, convicted perpetrators of journalist killings in the past year, up from three countries in the previous year’s report.

In another positive development, more countries on this year’s index participated in UNESCO’s impunity accountability mechanism.  The mechanism 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 three states among the 13 index countries – India, South Sudan and Syria – failed to respond.

(final editing by Issa Sikiti)

Photo: The body of Peter Julius Moi, a South Sudan journalist killed in August last year, is being transported to the mortuary in Juba. Credit: BBC/Associated Press

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