by Artemio A. Dumlao
BAGUIO CITY — The Philippines ranks third after Iraq and Somalia in the worldwide list of unsolved murder of journalists in 2011, the the New York-based press freedom watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said in its year-end survey study released Tuesday (December 20).
Maintaining its top third spot since last year, the country was adjudged by the CPJ from a 13-country list where journalists are murdered on a recurring basis and governments are unable or unwilling to prosecute the killers.
CPJ releasing its 2011 Impunity Index that covers 2001 to 2011at the 17th general meeting of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange in Beirut said, the Philippines accounts 0.609 unsolved journalist murders per 1 million inhabitants.
Last year, the country again ranked 3rd
The CPJ said, after justice officials meeting lengthily with them in 2010 to discuss the problem of impunity, with President Aquino offering his personal pledge to reverse the nation’s record of unpunished, anti-press violence, officials admitted the difficulty of the task.
At least 56 journalists have been killed “with impunity over the past decade,” the CPJ said, citing the worst– the 2009 Maguindanao massacre where 32 journalist and media workers were killed. Subsequently, the Philippine government’s case against hundreds of defendants “reflects an overall pattern in which Philippine authorities often identify suspects but rarely win convictions.”
The CPJ also cited threats and bribes targeting witnesses, and incompetence and corruption among local investigators in the massacre, touted as yet the world’s worst single case massacre on journalists and media workers.
Two years after the Maguindanao massacre, November 29, the day when the mass murder was executed, was marked as the International Day To End Impunity.
CPJ’s Impunity Index is compiled as part of the organization’s Global Campaign Against Impunity that “has focused on two of the world’s worst offenders — Russia and the Philippines.”
Only trailing behind war-torn Iraq and ethnic-violence wracked Somalia, the Philippines together with Sri Lanka, Colombia, Afghanistan, Nepal, Mexico, Russia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Brazil and India is in the 13-country index.
CPJ’s Impunity Index calculates the number of unsolved journalist murders as a percentage of each country’s population. For this index, CPJ examined journalist murders that occurred between January 1, 2001 through December 31, 2010, and that remain unsolved. Only those nations with five or more unsolved cases are included on this index.
CPJ defines murder as a deliberate attack against a specific journalist in relation to the victim’s work. Murders make up more than 70 percent of work-related deaths among journalists, according to CPJ research. This index does not include cases of journalists killed in combat or while carrying out dangerous assignments such as coverage of street protests.
Cases are considered unsolved when no convictions have been obtained. Population data from the World Bank’s 2009 World Development Indicators were used in calculating each country’s rating.
“Domestic Conflict Engenders Journalists Murders”
The CPJ accounts for at least 43 journalists killed worldwide in direct relation to their work in 2011.
Seven of these deaths were in Pakistan, where 29 journalists have been killed in the past five years.
Libya and Iraq, each with five fatalities, and Mexico, with three deaths, also ranked high worldwide for journalism-related fatalities.
The CPJ said most journalists deaths occurred in the Middle East, where 18 journalists were felled this year, many while covering the uprisings in the Arab countries.
“The combination of dangerous assignments turned deadly and targeted murders that remain unsolved is a double challenge to free expression,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon in the year-end survery report. “Combatants must recognize the right of journalists to cover conflict, while governments must be held accountable for investigating and prosecuting those who carry out crimes against the press.”
“Deaths In Dangerous Assignments”
Killed during dangerous assignments such as street protests, the CPJ said, reached the highest rate since 1992, while the proportion of murders has declined over the years, accounting for less than half the deaths in 2011.
But assassinations (targeted killings) continued in places where governments have failed to prosecute previous crimes.
According to CPJ, about 90 percent of journalist murders worldwide go unsolved even though most victims-70 percent in 2011-reported receiving threats prior to their deaths.***Artemio A. Dumlao***