Deadly, unpunished violence against the press rose sharply in Pakistan and Mexico, continuing a dark, years-long trend in both nations, the Committee to Protect Journalists has found in its newly updated Impunity Index.
The global index, which calculates unsolved journalist murders as a percentage of each country"s population, shows that Pakistani authorities routinely fail to bring prosecutions in journalist murders, including several with suspected government links, while Mexican officials are yet to effectively combat the murderous crime groups targeting news media in vast parts of the nation.
"Impunity is the oxygen for attacks against the press and the engine of those who seek to silence the media," said Javier Garza, deputy editor of the Mexican daily El Siglo de Torreón. Gunmen have attacked his newspaper"s Coahuila offices twice in the past four years and, though fatalities were avoided, no one has been arrested either. "These attacks made it clear to us that we can"t trust the authorities for protection."
CPJ"s index found improving conditions in Colombia and Nepal, along with a long-term decline in deadly, anti-press violence in Bangladesh that caused that country to drop off the list entirely. But the four worst nations in combating journalist murders—Iraq, Somalia, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka—showed virtually no sign of progress.
The release of CPJ’s index follows two significant international developments that take the fight against impunity in markedly different directions. In March, the Mexican Senate approved a constitutional amendment that, if adopted by the states, will federalize anti-press crimes and place national authorities in charge of such investigations, steps seen as crucial in fighting impunity in that country. But the same month, UNESCO"s 28th biennial session failed to endorse a plan to strengthen international efforts to fight impunity after the proposal drew objections from Pakistan and two other member nations—India and Brazil—that have high rates of deadly, anti-press violence. The U.N. plan—which could still move forward despite the setback—would strengthen the office of the special rapporteur for free expression and assist member states in developing national laws to prosecute the killers of journalists.
CPJ"s annual Impunity Index, first published in 2008, identifies countries where journalists are murdered regularly and governments fail to solve the crimes. For this latest index, CPJ examined journalist murders that occurred from January 1, 2002, through December 31, 2011, and that remain unsolved. Only the 12 nations in the world with five or more unsolved cases are included on the index. Cases are considered unsolved when no convictions have been won.
CPJ"s Impunity Index Report: http://www.cpj.org/reports/2012/04/impunity-index-2012.php.