PH less deadly, says media group
For the first time in 12 years, the Philippines is now out of the five deadliest countries for journalists, an international report noted, following the landmark 2019 conviction of the Ampatuans in what had been the single deadliest attack against reporters in history.
However, the Committee to Protect Journalists’ (CPJ) annual Impunity Index, which spotlights countries where journalists are often singled out with impunity, still showed “little change” from the previous years as war and political instability continue to perpetuate violence against journalists.
For now, war-ridden Somalia, Syria, Iraq, South Sudan and Afghanistan occupy the Top 5 slots of the index. Of those in the Top 12, Somalia, Mexico (sixth in the index), Syria and Iraq have seen over 20 unsolved murders.
The Philippines, now seventh on the list, saw 11 unsolved deaths in 2019.
80% of global total
The 12 countries on the index account for 80 percent of the global total of unsolved murders of journalists for the 10-year index period, CPJ noted.
All 12 have popped up multiple times since CPJ first compiled the index in 2008, and seven have appeared every year.
Pakistan and the Philippines have been mainstays on the Global Impunity Index since its inception in 2008, CPJ noted. But the country has been the “biggest mover” in this year’s rankings.
This was in part due to last year’s conviction of members of the Ampatuan clan over the grisly Maguindanao massacre in 2008 that killed 58 people, including 30 journalists.
Still, the CPJ assailed the Duterte administration’s “premature claim” that impunity against journalists has ended because of this conviction.
For one, all of the convicted Ampatuans, including the masterminds Andal Ampatuan Jr. and Zaldy Ampatuan, are still appealing their sentences. Another 80 suspects also remain at large.
“In the Philippines’ labyrinthine and politicized legal system, their legal challenges could take several years to be tried and the possibility of their acquittal on appeal still looms large,” CPJ said. “Meanwhile, the unaccountable killings continue apace, with at least two Filipino journalists murdered for their work so far in 2020.”
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