Hall of shame: India is one of 12 countries where killers of journalists go free easily

It ranks 12th on the CPJ’s Global Impunity Index 2020, one position worse than last year’s.

ByNL Team
Hall of shame: India is one of 12 countries where killers of journalists go free easily
Shambhavi Thakur
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India is one of the dozen countries that fare the worst when it comes to prosecuting killers of journalists, according to the Global Impunity Index 2020 prepared by the Committee to Protect Journalists.

The index “spotlights countries where journalists are singled out for murder and their killers go free”, the CPJ explained in its report titled Getting Away with Murder, released on Wednesday.

India is 12th on the index this year, its rank worsening from 13th last year and 14th in 2018. Somalia, Syria and Iraq – all countries ravaged by war – fill the top three positions. India’s neighbours, Pakistan and Bangladesh, rank 9th and 10th, respectively.

In 2019, the number of journalists killed in reprisal for their work was the lowest since the CPJ began recording them in 1992. This year, the number has already exceeded last year’s, though not substantially. Irrespective of the fall in the numbers of murders – which the CPJ suggests could be a result of self-censorship and the use of other methods of intimidation – the murderers have continued to enjoy impunity.

“Illustrating the entrenched nature of impunity, the 12 countries on the index account for 80% of the global total of unsolved murders of journalists for the 10-year index period,” the report pointed out. “All 12 have featured multiple times since CPJ first compiled the index in 2008, and seven have appeared every year.”

India is one of the countries to have featured on the index every year.

To rank countries on the impunity index, the CPJ calculates the number of unsolved journalist murders as a percentage of their populations, and only includes countries with five or more unsolved murders. The CPJ defines murder as a deliberate killing of a journalist in retaliation for their work, and considers cases unsolved “when no convictions have been obtained even if suspects have been identified”.

Global Impunity Index 2020.

Global Impunity Index 2020.

Not surprisingly, the index includes not only nations ravaged by war or armed conflict, the report noted, but “stable countries where criminal and political groups, politicians, business leaders..resort to violence to silence critical and investigative journalists”.

“The CPJ has found that corruption, weak institutions, and lack of political will to pursue robust investigations are all factors behind impunity in these countries,” the report concludes.

Speaking to Newslaundry, Aliya Iftikhar, senior Asia researcher at the CPJ, said, “India has consistently been on the list in recent years. And that’s because since 1992 at least 36 journalists have been murdered and we have only seen convictions in two of those cases. And that sets a really alarming precedent.”

Iftikhar spoke at length about the impunity index, India’s position on it, and what it means for the profession and practice of journalism.

Watch her interview with Newslaundry.

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