PH ranks 3rd in impunity for media killings

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 17 April) – After being tagged as the third most dangerous country for environment and land rights activists, the Philippines obtained another unsavory ranking – third most dangerous place for journalists in terms of impunity.

In its Global Impunity Index for the period 2004-2013 released Wednesday, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said Iraq topped the list with the worst record for solving murders of journalists followed by Somalia.

CPJ said the index calculates the number of unsolved journalist murders as a percentage of a country’s population, and cases are considered unsolved when no convictions have been obtained.

The group clarified that only those nations with five or more unsolved cases are included on the index. Thirteen countries entered the list this year. There were 12 last year, it said.

CPJ, however, considered Syria has become the world’s most dangerous country for journalists based on reports of a “rising number of targeted killings” in the war-torn country. It cited the “unprecedented numbers of abductions and high rates of fatalities in combat and crossfire.”

The Philippines has held the third rank on the impunity index since 2010. The survey started in 2008.

CPJ welcomed last year’s conviction of a gunman who shot broadcaster-environmentalist Gerardo Ortega in 2011, but said it “did little to change the rampant impunity in the Philippines.”

“More than 50 journalist murders that took place from 2004 through 2013 remain unsolved, belying the claim made in November 2013 by the office of President Benigno Aquino III that ‘there is no more impunity’ in the Philippines,” it said.

Among the other findings in CPJ’s Impunity Index:

Ninety-six percent of victims are local reporters. The majority covered politics, corruption, and war in their home countries.

A climate of impunity engenders violence. In eight countries that appear repeatedly on the Index year after year, new murders took place in 2013.

Threats often precede killings. In at least four out of every 10 journalist murders, the victims reported receiving threats before they were killed.

Killers of journalists aim to send a chilling message to the entire news media. Almost a third of murdered journalists were either taken captive or tortured before their death.

A total of 10 of the 13 countries on the Impunity Index have been listed each year since CPJ began the annual analysis in 2008, underscoring the challenges in reversing entrenched impunity.

Political groups, including armed factions, are the suspected perpetrators in more than 40 percent of murder cases. Government and military officials are considered the leading suspects in 26 percent of the cases. In fewer than five percent of cases are the masterminds ever apprehended and prosecuted.