Journalists in the cross hairs of killers

Today is designated as International Day To End Impunity For Crimes Against Journalists

Demonstrators hold placards as they take part in a protest calling for the release of reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, outside of the Myanmar embassy in London, on Sept 27, 2018. PHOTO: AFP

Every four days, a journalist is murdered, often for denouncing corruption, trafficking, political wrongdoing or human rights abuses. Those responsible often go unpunished.

This year alone, at least 45 journalists have been killed around the world as a result of their work. This number does not include 17 other deaths in which the motive has not been confirmed, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). Many of them are in Asia.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation has designated Nov 2 as the International Day To End Impunity For Crimes Against Journalists.

It has also launched a global #TruthNeverDies campaign, and with the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, urges news publishers worldwide to raise awareness of journalist killings and the cases where those responsible went unpunished.

CPJ notes that in the past decade, at least 324 journalists have been silenced through murder and in 85 per cent of these cases, no perpetrators have been convicted. "It is an emboldening message to those who seek to censor and control the media through violence," the CPJ said.

The CPJ has also identified 14 countries where such impunity is entrenched. Topping the list is Somalia, followed by Syria, Iraq and South Sudan. The Philippines ranks fifth, Afghanistan sixth, and Mexico in seventh place.

Three other Asian countries make the list: Pakistan (ninth), Bangladesh (12th) and India (14th).

Today and tomorrow, The Straits Times correspondents highlight the climate of impunity against journalists in the Philippines, Myanmar and the Americas, as well as in India and Pakistan.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 02, 2018, with the headline Journalists in the cross hairs of killers. Subscribe