Aliya Iftikhar is a senior Asia researcher at the Committee to Protect Journalists. She speaks with Snigdha Sharma of Newslaundry about the Global Impunity Index 2020, which “spotlights countries where journalists are singled out for murder and their killers go free”. The index, published on Wednesday, ranks India 12th.
Explaining the thinking behind the impunity index, Aliya argues that murder is the “highest form of censorship” for the media. The index, thus, is intended to “hold countries accountable and stop this cycle of violence”, she says. “This can happen by increasing political will and making sure that such cases are swiftly seen to prosecution.”
Talking about the impunity that exists for the killers of journalists in India, she says, “It is unfortunate that India has been consistently on the list. Since 1992 at least 36 journalists have been murdered but only two convictions occurred in these cases – setting an alarming precedent.”
Aliya notes that the number of journalists murdered for their work has seen a downward trend in the past few years but cautions that “it doesn’t mean press freedom has increased”. “Rather,” she argues, “we are seeing different methods to harass journalists.” India, for example, has seen a rapid increase in the number of cases lodged against journalists.