PH joins conflict-torn countries in Global Impunity Index Top 5
With heightened conflict in Syria, the Philippines’ rank in the Committee to Protect Journalists’ 2015 Global Impunity Index improved, dropping to top 4, from top 3 in 2014.
Still, it is the only country among the top 5 that is not “in a state of large-scale armed conflict.”
Titled “Getting Away with Murder,” the report ranks countries based on the number of journalists that are killed but are not given justice. These are countries where perpetrators are able to flee and go unpunished.
CPJ said it is the first time since the index started in 2008 that Iraq was not ranked first.
“The shift reflects a steady death toll in Somalia, where one or more journalists have been murdered every year over the past decade, and the government has proved unable or unwilling to investigate the attacks,” the report said.
The 14 countries where at least five journalists have been murdered but no killer has been convicted are: (1) Somalia, (2) Iraq, (3) Syria, (4) Philippines, (5) Sudan, (6) Sri Lanka, (7) Afghanistan, (8) Mexico, (9) Pakistan, (10) Russia, (11) Brazil, (12) Bangladesh, (13) Nigeria, and (14) India.
The year before, Iraq topped the list, followed by Somalia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Syria. From 2010 to 2014, the Philippines held the third spot.
According to CPJ, 44 cases of media killings have been recorded in the Philippines since September 2005 “with complete impunity.” Seven of those happened under the watch of President Benigno Aquino III.
“Justice for the 32 media victims and 26 others slaughtered in the 2009 massacre in Maguindanao appears more elusive than ever. No one has yet been convicted of the crime and, after six years of protracted legal proceedings, the suspected mastermind has now died of natural causes,” the report added.
In July, Andal Ampatuan Sr. died after battling liver cancer.
The CPJ welcomed the 2013 conviction of the gunman who killed Palawan radio broadcaster Gerardo Ortega but hit the fact that the accused masterminds – former Palawan Governor Joel Reyes and former Coron Mayor Mario Reyes – have yet to stand trial.
Last Friday, the Reyes brothers declined to enter a plea during an arraignment at the Palawan Regional Trial Court while their counsel asked for the arraignment to be postponed. The case pretrial conference was set for December 3.
Victims of crossfire, ‘propaganda tactic’
Somalia topped the index because of an ongoing civil war.
“While the government has pinned its impunity problem on the political instability and shortage of resources inflicted by 20 years of civil war, journalists say authorities fail to conduct even minimal investigations when journalists are killed,” CPR said.
Iraq, which has long been heading the list, was ranked second for the first time. The unsolved murders has reached 84 while many have been abducted in areas reportedly controlled by the Islamic State.
Syria, on the other hand, climbed two spots, overtaking the Philippines and landing third place.
CPR said the violence against media has become a “propaganda tactic,” with Islamic State members beheading foreign journalists and releasing footage on social media.
“Syria is the most dangerous country in the world for journalists. Since the conflict began in 2011, at least 85 journalists have been killed by crossfire, on dangerous assignments, or murdered,” the group said.
South Sudan, in fifth place, was included in the index four years after it gained independence.
“Since civil war broke out in 2013, security agents have harassed the press and raided media outlets to limit coverage of rebel activities,” CPJ said. CDG
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.