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CPJ's Impunity Index ranks countries where killers of journalists go free

(CPJ/IFEX) - The following is an abridged CPJ press release:

GETTING AWAY WITH MURDER
CPJ's Impunity Index ranks countries where killers of journalists go free

New York, April 30, 2008 - Democracies from Colombia to India and Russia to the Philippines are among the worst nations in the world at prosecuting journalists' killers according to the Impunity Index, a list of countries compiled by the Committee to Protect Journalists where governments have consistently failed to solve journalists' murders.

The countries with the worst records for impunity - Iraq, Sierra Leone and Somalia - have been mired in conflict. But the majority of the 13 countries on CPJ's Impunity Index are established, peacetime democracies such as Mexico, pointing to alarming failures by those elected governments to protect journalists.

"Every time a journalist is murdered and the killer is allowed to walk free it sends a terrible signal to the press and to others who would harm journalists," said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. "The governments on this list simply must do more to demonstrate a real commitment to a free press. Lip service won't help save journalists' lives. We are calling for action: thorough investigations and vigorous prosecutions in all journalist homicides."

In releasing the Impunity Index in advance of World Press Freedom Day, May 3, CPJ is raising awareness about a disturbing pattern of impunity in these 13 countries across the globe. Among CPJ's findings:

- Most countries on the Impunity Index are democratic, are not at war, and have functioning law enforcement institutions, yet journalists are regularly targeted for murder and no one is held accountable.
- Journalists in South Asia are particularly vulnerable. Countries from that region make up almost half of the index. They include Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India.
- Even in countries in conflict, such as Iraq, the vast majority of journalist deaths are homicides, not products of crossfire.
- Local reporters covering their home countries are most vulnerable. Most of the murders ranked in the Impunity Index were local journalists in their home countries.

Journalists from several of these countries discuss the conditions and the effect on their work in a CPJ video report.

CPJ's Impunity Index, compiled for the first time this year, calculates the number of unsolved journalist murders as a percentage of the population in each country. CPJ examined every nation in the world for the years 1998 through 2007. Only those nations with five or more unsolved cases are included in this index. Cases are considered unsolved when no convictions have been obtained. For a detailed explanation of CPJ's methodology, click here: http://www.cpj.org/impunityindex/#method

In November, CPJ launched a Global Campaign Against Impunity. CNN Chief International Correspondent and CPJ Board Member Christiane Amanpour wrote about impunity in her preface to CPJ's annual report, Attacks on the Press, and spoke about it in a video earlier this year.

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To read detailed statistical breakdown for each country, click here: http://www.cpj.org/impunityindex/#stats

CPJ is a New York-based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide. For more information, visit http://www.cpj.org

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