For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), in its 2010 Impunity Index, ranks Sri Lanka number four among countries around the world where journalists have been murdered on a regular basis without the killers being prosecuted.
In Sri Lanka, the CPJ cites 10 incidents during the past decade, in which the government had failed to investigate journalist murders. Most of those reporters covered issues pertaining to human rights, politics, military affairs and corruption. The CPJ says no convictions have been made in any of those cases thus far.
“We’ve heard repeated pledges from governments that the killers of journalists will face justice, but until these promises are fulfilled, media will continue to be targeted by those who believe they are above the law and immune from consequences,” CPJ’s executive director Joel Simon said in a statement.
The same types of coverage – national security, crime and corruption – are what put journalists in danger in other parts of the world. Most of the victims of impunity overall, as much as 90 percent, were local reporters covering these topics as a part of their profession.
The CPJ points out two nations that have made significant improvement. Brazil and Colombia, historically known to be among the deadliest countries for journalists, have recently started addressing violence against journalists by prosecuting killers. Brazil has been removed from the impunity index completely.
While Iraq topped the list with 88 cases of unsolved journalist murders during the past 10 years, Sri Lanka ranked above Afghanistan where there have been seven unresolved journalist murder cases in the past decade. Nepal ranked seventh, Pakistan tenth, and India was listed last on the list.
According to CPJ findings, South Asia is particularly dangerous for journalists. In its list of 12 countries, six are nations located in South Asia: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
“Our goal in compiling this index is to spur leaders in these nations to action,” Simon said. “Many of these cases are solvable—the perpetrators have been identified but authorities lack the political will to prosecute.