The Committee to Protect Journalists documented how few murders of journalists have been solved in its 2022 Global Impunity Index. Image: Screenshot, CPJ
To mark November 2, the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) released its annual report on the state of justice for attacks on the press around the world. Reflecting the growing global threats to a free and independent press by autocratic governments, organized crime, and extremists, the report detailed a grim and alarming lack of accountability.
According to CPJ’s 2022 Global Impunity Index report, authored by Jennifer Dunham, CPJ’s deputy editorial director, “the vast majority of killers of journalists continue to get away with murder.” Specifically, the report found that “no one has been held to account for nearly 80% of 263 journalist murders over the past 10 years worldwide.”
Similarly, UNESCO’s 2022 report on safety of journalists and the dangers of impunity noted that while killings are down in 2020 and 2021 overall, “the percentage of journalist killings in countries not experiencing armed conflict has been increasing since 2016.”
“It’s been open season on journalists for far too long,” said GIJN Executive Director David E. Kaplan. “If countries want democracy and development, they’ll need to figure out how to protect the press.”
For the eighth straight year, sitting atop the CPJ Global Impunity Index is Somalia, where 19 journalists have been killed in retaliation for their work since 2012, with no convictions of their killers. Making its first appearance on the annual index — one year after a military coup toppled the civilian government — is Myanmar, where the ruling junta has jailed dozens of journalists and is suspected of murdering at least three members of the press. And Mexico continues to be the most dangerous country for the press in the Western Hemisphere, with 28 unsolved murders of journalists over the past 10 years.
“But even in less volatile countries with democratically elected governments, authorities show little political will for prosecuting journalists’ killers or curbing violence against the press,” the report warned. For example, CPJ noted how accountability for crimes against reporters in the Philippines, India, and Brazil has continued to deteriorate.
Finally, CPJ pointed to the ominous environment for independent journalists in Russia. Targeted killings of journalists have declined in that country of late, the report noted. The reasons behind this decline in violent attacks is no cause for celebration, however. CPJ pointed out that after a slow erosion of press freedom in recent years, independent journalism “has almost completely closed since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February, with most of the remaining outlets shutting down under legal and regulatory pressure and thousands of journalists fleeing the country amid a crackdown that has been disastrous for the press in Russia.”
Watch CPJ’s short video below about its 2022 Global Impunity Index.