Mexico and Brazil among countries with highest rates of impunity for crimes against journalists: CPJ

Mexico and Brazil are the only two Latin American nations among a ranking of the 13 countries globally where the killers of journalists most frequently are unpunished, according to the 2019 Global Impunity Index published by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

“The impunity we have witnessed in these [13] countries year after year, and the knowledge that authorities take little action against those who attack the press, cripples the ability of journalists around the world to do their job,” said CPJ Advocacy Director Courtney Radsch, according to an organization press release. “Democratic governments cannot stand silent in the face of impunity if they want to be seen as supporting press freedom. It is imperative that journalists and their families receive the justice they deserve, and that world leaders demand accountability.”

In Mexico, which is 7th on the index, there has been just one conviction out of the (at least) 31 murders that took place between Sept. 1, 2009 and Aug. 31, 2019, according to the organization. It is also the deadliest country for journalists this year, CPJ added.

The oldest case in the above time period that has not been solved is that of Norberto Miranda Madrid, who was shot at the offices of Radio Visión in Nuevo Casas Grandes in the state of Chihuahua on Sept. 23, 2009.

Brazil is ranked 9th in the 2019 index with 15 unsolved killings. It’s situation has improved in that last year it had 17 unsolved cases.

The oldest case in Brazil in the time period considered that has not seen any justice is that of Luciano Leitão Pedrosa, journalist for TV Vitória and Radio Metropolitana FM in the state of Pernambuco. He was shot while at a restaurant on April 9, 2011.

Both Mexico and Brazil were also included on the index in 2018.

According to CPJ, Colombia was the only country that was on the list last year (ranked 8th) and does not appear this year. It mentioned the case of two journalists and a driver from Ecuadoran newspaper El Comercio who were abducted while reporting on that country’s border with Colombia. They were later murdered, allegedly by the Olivier Sinisterra Front, which is made up of former FARC rebels. Colombian President Ivan Duque announced in December 2018 that Walter Arizala, alias “Guacho” and leader of the Oliver Sinisterra Front, had been killed in a police and military operation.

CPJ said that 318 journalists were killed worldwide for their work during the 10-year period considered for the impunity index. Additionally there were no successful prosecutions in 86 percent of those cases, marking, along with 2018 percentages, what the organization said was a “small improvement” compared to previous years.

The organization released the index on Oct. 29 to mark the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, which is held on Nov. 2.

CPJ’s research shows that “unchecked corruption, ineffective institutions, and lack of political will to pursue robust investigations are all factors behind impunity.”

The index “calculates the number of unsolved journalist murders as a percentage of each country’s population.” To make the ranking, CPJ considers countries with “the worst records in prosecuting those who murder journalists in direct retaliation for their work.” Cases are included if they are unsolved and in complete impunity, meaning that there have been no convictions. The period of time considered is Sept. 1, 2009 to Aug. 31, 2019

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