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Iraq ranked worst at solving journalists' murders for fifth straight year

Committee to Protect Journalists Impunity Index: Iraq remains at the top for the fifth straight year
Committee to Protect Journalists Impunity Index: Iraq remains at the top for the fifth straight year

Iraq remains at the top of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) Impunity Index for the fifth year in a row, with cases of 93 journalists killed in the past 10 years still unsolved.

CPJ's Impunity Index annually ranks the 12 worst countries where journalists are murdered regularly and governments fail to solve the crimes. The index dates back to 2002.

CPJ reports that Iraq's rating for impunity "dwarfs that of every other nation" with a rating of 2.906 unsolved cases per million inhabitants.

"Most of the murders occurred as Iraq was immersed in war, but even now, as authorities claim stability, they have failed to bring justice in a single case," says CPJ.

And it looks like the trend could continue in 2012: TV presenter Kamiran Salaheddin was killed in Tikrit on 3 April by a bomb placed under his car, reports CPJ.

Rounding up the four worst countries for accountability were Somalia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka, which "showed virtually no sign of progress," says CPJ.

Meanwhile, unsolved journalists' murders have risen sharply in Mexico and Pakistan, leading to their worsening in the Index.

Pakistan, which at the end of 2011 was named "the deadliest country for journalists," recorded seven deaths in 2011 where the motive was known. Its impunity rating worsened for the fourth straight year, perhaps not surprising as several of the cases were linked to the government.

In Mexico, where at least 15 journalist murders have gone unsolved since 2002, officials have yet to effectively combat the crime groups that target the news media. Mexico's rating also worsened for the third straight year.

The deadly, unpunished violence against journalists often leads to forced silence in the rest of the media, says CPJ, pointing to the journalists who have resorted to reporting the news under pseudonyms on social media sites.

Perhaps Mexico is trying to buck the trend. This year, the Mexican Senate approved legislation federalising anti-press crimes, which would place national authorities in charge of such investigations. It has also established a journalist protection programme, both of which CPJ terms "steps seen as crucial in fighting impunity."

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

In other good news, CPJ charted "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 full index, which calculates unsolved journalist murders as a percentage of each country's population, is shown below in order of rank and displaying the number of unsolved cases. The number in brackets is the rating of unsolved cases per million inhabitants:

Iraq: 93 (2.906)
Somalia: 11 (1.183)
Philippines: 55 (0.589)
Sri Lanka: 9 (0.431)
Colombia: 8 (0.173)
Nepal: 5 (0.167)
Afghanistan: 5 (0.145)
Mexico: 15 (0.132)
Russia: 16 (0.113)
Pakistan: 19 (0.109)
Brazil: 5 (0.026)
India: 6 (0.005)

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