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CPJ's Impunity Index: Getting away with murder

(CPJ/IFEX) - New York, April 17, 2012 - Unsolved journalist murders have risen sharply in Mexico and Pakistan, continuing an alarming trend in both countries, the Committee to Protect Journalists found in its newly updated Impunity Index, an annual ranking of countries where journalists are murdered regularly and governments fail to solve the crimes.

"Censorship by murder is happening in these 12 nations where journalists are hunted down for their work and authorities fail to uphold the law," said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. "The absence of justice in journalist murders deters the rest of the press from critical reporting and leaves the public with a shallower grasp of their world."

Pakistan's impunity rating worsened for the fourth straight year as authorities routinely failed to bring prosecutions in journalist murders, including several with suspected government links. Nineteen murders are unsolved in Pakistan over the past decade. In Mexico, where at least 15 journalist murders have gone unsolved, officials have yet to effectively combat the crime groups targeting news media in vast regions of the country. Mexico's rating worsened for the third year in a row.

Among the four worst nations in combating journalist murders - Iraq, Somalia, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka - CPJ found virtually no sign of progress. But CPJ's index did chart improving conditions in Colombia and Nepal, along with a long-term decline in deadly, anti-press violence in Bangladesh that caused that country to drop off the list entirely.

The release of CPJ's index follows two significant international developments that take the fight against impunity in different directions. In March, the Mexican Senate approved legislation federalizing anti-press crimes, a step seen as important in fighting impunity. But the same month, UNESCO's 28th biennial session failed to endorse a plan to strengthen international efforts to fight impunity after the proposal drew objections from Pakistan and two other member nations - India and Brazil - that have high rates of deadly, anti-press violence.

"The index is a call for governments to ensure that reporting on sensitive topics does not become a death sentence," said Simon. "Delivering justice and protecting journalists need to be priorities for countries committed to accountability and the rule of law."

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