Image: Screenshot, Committee to Protect Journalists
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 261 journalists have been murdered for doing their job in the past 10 years, yet in nearly four out of five cases — 78% — no perpetrator has been held accountable. These ominous numbers, documented in CPJ’s 2023 Global Impunity Index, are part of what CPJ calls a 30-year-long “hard path to justice,” where killings of reporters and other members of the press routinely go unpunished.
“Since 1992, full justice has only been achieved for 47 murdered journalists – fewer than 5%,” this year’s index noted. “Factors like international pressure, universal jurisdiction, and changes in government can play instrumental roles in securing that punishment.”
During the past year, CPJ has documented the emergence of Haiti as the third-most dangerous country for the unpunished crimes against press. Haiti’s dubious distinction of being the first-ever Caribbean country listed among the 10 worst offenders for journalist killings is due to “a devastating combination of gang violence, chronic poverty, political instability, and a dysfunctional judiciary.”
Syria and Somalia, countries that have been on the Global Impunity Index every year of its existence, now rank first and second, respectively, in 2023. In Syria, a nation still reeling from more than a decade of civil war, CPJ found 14 unpunished murders of journalists in the past year. Somalia, which had topped the Index since 2013, fell back one spot, but continues to be a potentially deadly country for journalists, 11 of whom were killed by the insurgent group Al-Shabaab between 2013 and 2018.
Other countries rounding out the list of the 12 worst for failing to punish the killing of journalists are South Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Mexico, Philippines, Myanmar, Brazil, Pakistan, and India.
Citing the dozens of journalists recently struck down in Israel and Palestine (the 31 reporters killed so far during the latest outbreak of violence were not included in the data for this year’s report) as well as eroding press freedom in European countries like Malta, Slovakia, Greece, and the Netherland, CPJ pointed out how a lack of accountability for attacks and murders of journalists ripples out to nearly every corner of the globe.
“The pernicious effects of impunity extend beyond the countries that have become fixtures on CPJ’s annual index,” the report explained. “Unpunished murders have an intimidating effect on local journalists everywhere, corroding press freedom and shrinking public-interest reporting.”