22 Março 2005
IPI Releases World Press Freedom Review: Impunity Lives, while Journalists Die
22 March 2005 Examining 191 countries and territories, the 2004 Review reveals the overwhelming failure of the authorities in many parts of the world to properly investigate and prosecute the killers of journalists.
22 March 2005 - Examining 191 countries and territories, the 2004 Review reveals the overwhelming failure of the authorities in many parts of the world to properly investigate and prosecute the killers of journalists. With 78 journalists killed, 2004 has been one of the worst years since IPI first started keeping records. The ongoing Iraqi insurgency killed 23 journalists and it remains the deadliest place in the world to practice journalism. Asia and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), with a total of 54 journalists killed - 27 in each - are the most dangerous regions; while, in the Americas, 15 journalists lost their lives. Elsewhere, two journalists were killed in Africa and seven in Europe. Although journalists died for a variety of reasons, this year saw the continuation of a worrying trend linking countries as diverse as Bangladesh, Belarus, Haiti, The Gambia, Mexico, the Philippines and the Ukraine, among many others. Their shameful connection is the authorities' failure to properly investigate and prosecute the killers of journalists. A prime example of this type of blanket impunity that smothers all attempts at investigation is the Philippines. Since the country gained independence in 1986 some 56 journalists have been killed, including 12 in 2004. No one has ever been convicted of these killings. With five journalists killed in 2004, Bangladesh is another country where the authorities appear oblivious to the need to assert the rule of law. In the Americas, four journalists died in Mexico where corruption and drug trafficking have made it almost impossible for journalists to carry out investigative reporting. In Haiti, where one journalist was killed in 2004, government indifference has obscured the truth. There have also been no arrests in the cases of two Haitian journalists killed in 2000 and 2001. Eastern Europe is also a region of impunity. In Russia, with three killings in 2004, there is a history of failed attempts to investigate journalists' killings. Belarus and the Ukraine are two other countries where authorities routinely mishandle cases involving journalists. Nearly five years on from the murder of Ukrainian journalist Georgiy Gongadze, the authorities have yet to carry out an investigation to the satisfaction of the international community. Speaking of the situation, IPI Director, Johann P. Fritz said, "In so many cases, investigations into the deaths of journalists are hampered by the failure to interview witnesses, the inability to follow leads, lost evidence, a desire to cover up, corruption, judicial partiality, inertia or even plain apathy." "On other occasions, the reason is clearer: it is the government that does not wish the perpetrators or the reason for the killing to come to light. This joins the authorities and the perpetrators in a common cause: to ensure that journalists are silenced and that embarrassing and uncomfortable information never reaches the public domain." "At a time when many countries claim a democracy, their authorities should appreciate the damage caused by impunity and ensure that those who commit the ultimate form of censorship are punished," said Fritz.