Columns

Islamic Terror Groups, Corrupt Governments Killing Journalists with Impunity

A new report finds Islamic terror groups to be the biggest culprit in getting away with the murder of journalists worldwide, with Al-Shabaab in Somalia deemed the worst offender as the African country tops the index for the second year in a row.

The Committee to Protect Journalists annual index studied where the media are killed with impunity — when journalists are murdered and the killers aren’t punished.

The index is published to coincide with the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists on Nov. 2.

CPJ studied journalist murders in every country over the past decade and included nations with five or more unsolved, where no convictions have occurred, journalist murders.

Somalia had 24 journalists killed with impunity over the past decade, while Iraq saw 71 journalists killed with impunity — with both ISIS and the government blamed. Some of the journalists slain by the Islamic State have been covertly reporting in the area, trying to capture the brutality of the terrorists’ occupation in their homeland.

Syria’s impunity rating doubled from last year as 17 journalists have been murdered with impunity over the past decade by Islamic terrorists and Bashar al-Assad’s forces. Among the victims over the past year was Sami Jawdat Rabah, an online reporter for the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, killed in a June ISIS video by being strapped to an exploding laptop computer.

Islamists targeting secular bloggers for assassination have also been responsible for some of the seven murders with impunity in Bangladesh, and Boko Haram has been highlighted as the culprit in some of the five journalist murders in Nigeria.

“While militant extremists are responsible for the greatest numbers of attacks against journalists in recent years, they are not the only ones getting away with murder, nor are conflict zones the only place where impunity thrives,” the report stresses.

Forty-one journalists have been killed in the Philippines over the past decade, with the government cited as getting away with murder. There still have been no full trials for any of the dozens accused in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre of 32 media workers. There have been, however, four witnesses murdered.

In Mexico, drug cartels have gotten away with 21 journalist murders in the past 10 years.

A country that was noted as improving is Afghanistan, where five journalists have been killed with impunity over the past decade but “no journalists have been targeted in direct retaliation for their work since 2008.” The Taliban consistently strike journalists, though, including the January bombing of the Tolo TV station.

Other countries on the list: Pakistan, South Sudan, Brazil, and India.

Russia came in at No. 10 on the index, with nine journalists killed over the past decade for which there have been no convictions.

CPJ singles out “government officials, political groups” for “getting away with murder” in Russia. The victims? Journalists reporting on corruption and human rights.