India has earned the dubious distinction of securing a spot for the eighth year in a row on a global index which ranks the countries around the world where journalists are murdered and their killers go unpunished.
The Committee to Protect Journalists’ Impunity Index Report, Getting Away With Murder ranked 14 countries and took into account the unsolved murders that took place between September 1, 2005, and August 31, 2015.
Those countries where five or more journalists were killed without a single perpetrator being convicted are included on the index. These countries combined account for 83% of the unsolved murders that took place worldwide during the 10-year period.
For the first time since 2008, Iraq - which usually claims the first spot as the worst offender - has slipped in the list this year. Instead, 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” has managed to make it to the top.
Here is a map of the top 14 countries named in the report this year.
In India, 37 journalists have been killed with confirmed motive since 1992 and 11 of them were killed in the last 10 years.
“Of the 11 journalist murders CPJ has confirmed as work-related in the last 10 years in India, all have been carried out with complete impunity, securing India’s spot on the Impunity Index for the eighth year in a row,” CPJ said.
Even though India slipped from 13 to 14 this year, it is still a better place for journalists than its neighbours Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Also, its impunity rating rose from 0.006 unsolved journalist murders per million inhabitants to 0.008.
“Nearly all the victims reported on corruption or politics, like freelance journalist Jagendra Singh, who died from burn wounds in June,” the report said.
Singh, a social media journalist who was burnt to death in Shahjahanpur over his reports against a Uttar Pradesh minister, used Facebook to report about issues nobody bothered about and pushed authorities to provide solutions. In his dying declaration, Singh alleged that police set him on fire at the behest of the minister.
India is among the five countries along with Philippines, Russia, Brazil, Mexico - all democracies with functioning law enforcement and judicial institutions - which have together let the killers of at least 96 journalists go unpunished over the past decade.
“India’s unrelenting impunity is fostering an increasingly dangerous climate for journalists.”
The Press Council of India, a statutory body, has called for a two-minute news blackout on November 2 to protest the impunity in recent attacks against journalists.
CPJ is a US-based non-profit organisation that promotes press freedom around the world and has been releasing the index since 2008.