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Nepal Monitor: The National Online Journal

Nepal Ranks 7th in CPJ Impunity Index on Journalists

The report says no evident progress has been made in achieving justice.

In Nepal, six local reporters and editors have been murdered with complete impunity in the past decade. Maoist cadres are suspected in a number of the killings, including the 2007 murder of reporter Birendra Shah, whose coverage had been critical of what was then an armed Maoist insurgency. After joining the government in 2008, Maoist leaders pledged to investigate the numerous press freedom violations that had been ascribed to their members, including several non-fatal attacks and abductions. Yet no evident progress has been made in achieving justice.

Impunity Index Rating for Nepal: 0.205 unsolved journalist murders per 1 million inhabitants.
Last year: Ranked 7th with a rating of 0.210.

Here is the full report:
New York, June 1, 2011: Russia and Mexico, two of the world's most murderous countries for the press, are heading in different directions in combating deadly anti-press violence, the Committee to Protect Journalists has found in its newly updated Impunity Index. The index, which calculates unsolved journalist murders as a percentage of each country's population, found improvement in Russia as journalist murders ebbed and prosecutors obtained two high-profile convictions. But deadly anti-press violence continued to climb in Mexico, where authorities appear powerless in bringing killers to justice.
Colombia continued a years-long pattern of improvement, CPJ's index found, while conditions in Bangladesh reflected a slight upturn. But the countries at the top of the index--Iraq, Somalia, and the Philippines--showed either no improvement or even worsening records. Iraq, with an impunity rating three times worse than that of any other nation, is ranked first for the fourth straight year. Although crossfire and other conflict-related deaths have dropped in Iraq in recent years, the targeted killings of journalists spiked in 2010.
"The findings of the 2011 Impunity Index lay bare the stark choices that governments face: Either address the issue of violence against journalists head-on or see murders continue and self-censorship spread," said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. "Convictions in Russia are a hopeful sign after years of indifference and denial. But Mexico's situation is deeply troubling, with violence spiking as the government promises action but fails to deliver."
CPJ's annual Impunity Index, first published in 2008, identifies countries where journalists are murdered regularly and governments fail to solve the crimes. For this latest index, CPJ examined journalist murders that occurred between January 1, 2001 through December 31, 2010, and that remain unsolved. Only the 13 nations with five or more unsolved cases are included on the index. Cases are considered unsolved when no convictions have been obtained
Impunity is a key indicator in assessing levels of press freedom and free expression in nations worldwide. CPJ research shows that deadly, unpunished violence against journalists often leads to vast self-censorship in the rest of the press corps. From Somalia to Mexico, CPJ has found that journalists avoid sensitive topics, leave the profession, or flee their homeland to escape violent retribution.
In the past year, CPJ delegations have met with heads of state in the Philippines, Mexico, and Pakistan, and with senior law enforcement officials in Russia, to seek systemic reforms and convictions in unsolved cases. In each instance, top officials pledged to reverse the record of impunity in their countries, but the task is considerable. CPJ research shows that, time and again, entrenched corruption and dysfunction in law enforcement has thwarted justice in journalist murders. Suspects have been publicly identified in dozens of unsolved cases examined by CPJ for this index, but authorities have been unable or unwilling to gain convictions.
In Mexico, President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa's administration has adopted some broad reforms--strengthening the office of the special prosecutor for crimes against free expression, for one--but prosecutors are still failing to win convictions in a corruption-plagued legal system. In the Philippines, President Benigno Aquino has pledged to successfully prosecute those responsible for the 2009 massacre of dozens of journalists and others in Maguindanao province. But trial proceedings thus far have been marred by threats and bribes targeting witnesses.
Among the 13 nations on the 2011 index, Russia has made measurable progress, CPJ research shows. Senior investigative officials reopened several unsolved journalist murder cases after meeting with a CPJ delegation in 2010, and, in April, prosecutors won convictions in the 2009 murder of reporter Anastasiya Baburova in Moscow.
"In order to reduce their ranking on the Impunity Index governments must do two things: Solve crimes and prevent further violence. One strategy for achieving this is to ensure that law enforcement responds aggressively when journalists are threatened," said CPJ's Simon. "Such threats need to be thoroughly investigated and, when appropriate, threatened journalists should be provided with security and assistance in temporary relocation. The Colombian government has made a significant commitment to journalist protection, and that commitment shows in its improved rating on the index."
Among other findings in the Impunity Index:
• Brazil returns to the index after dropping off a year ago. While Brazilian authorities have had success in prosecuting journalist murders, winning several convictions in recent years, the country still sees persistent anti-press violence. The October 2010 murder of a muckraking radio reporter became the country's fifth unsolved case in the past decade.
• Local journalists are the victims in the vast majority of unsolved cases worldwide. Only about 6 percent of unsolved cases on the index involve international journalists slain while working abroad.
• Prior threats against a journalist are powerful indicators of violence to come. More than 40 percent of the victims in this index had received threats prior to being killed.
• In countries with weak law enforcement, political reporting is the most dangerous beat. Among the unsolved cases on this index, nearly 30 percent of victims had covered politics.
• About 28 percent of victims covered armed conflict, reflecting a long-term phenomenon documented by CPJ. Even in war zones, CPJ has found, the targeted killing of journalists is common.
• As reflected in past editions of the index, impunity is severe across South Asia. Six of the region's nations--Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India--are on the 2011 index.
CPJ is releasing its 2011 Impunity Index at the 17th general meeting of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange in Beirut, which brings together press freedom advocates from around the world. CPJ's Impunity Index is compiled as part of the organization's Global Campaign Against Impunity. Underwritten by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the campaign has focused on two of the world's worst offenders, Russia and the Philippines.

For a detailed explanation of CPJ's methodology, click here.

Click here for the Global Idex.

Posted by Editor on June 2, 2011 9:53 AM