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Press Freedoms Seriously Under Threat Around the Globe

Governments around the world are failing to investigate the murders of journalists with Mexico and India having the maximum number of recent such cases pending investigation, the International Press Institute (IPI) revealed.

The Vienna-based global organisation of editors, journalists, and media executives in its ‘Death Watch’ said as many as 100 journalists lost their lives around the world in connection with their work over the past year.

Of these, at least 32 were killed in retaliation for their work, frequently in response to reports exposing corruption or the activities of crime syndicates.

The Death Watch includes an additional 41 journalists whose killings are suspected of being linked to their work but for which there remains insufficient evidence due to poor or lacking investigations.

IPI’s Death Watch lists journalists and media staff whose deaths have been linked to journalism. The Death Watch includes names of journalists who were deliberately targeted because of their profession as well as those who lost their lives while on assignment.

The IPI said 13 journalists lost their lives covering armed conflict, a majority of them in Afghanistan.

Analysis of the data collected since September 2017 shows that in many cases of targeted killings of journalists, investigations are slow, and the perpetrators have not been brought to justice.

“Mexico and India have emerged as two countries where investigations into journalist killings have been particularly tardy,” it said.

In Mexico, 14 journalists were murdered and in India 12 died in targeted killings in the last one year, it said.

“So far, arrests have been made in only two cases in Mexico and six in India. Most of these arrests are controversial,” the IPI said.

“Police in India have nabbed the alleged killers of woman journalist Gauri Lankesh, who was gunned down outside her house in Bengaluru in September last year. However, media reports have cast doubt on the reliability of some of the arrests,” the IPI said in a statement.

In the case of Syed Shujaat Bukhari, the editor-in-chief of Rising Kashmir, who was killed on June 14 outside his office, suspects have been identified but not yet brought to justice, it said.

“The impunity with which journalists have been murdered and the slow pace of investigations raise the question whether the deaths of journalists are probed thoroughly and urgently as they should be to protect press freedom,” IPI Head of Advocacy Ravi R Prasad said.

Journalist killings in Slovakia, Malta, Brazil, Guatemala, The Philippines, Afghanistan, El Salvador and Pakistan also await further investigation.

The IPI Executive Board will gather in Bratislava, Slovakia to mark International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists on November 2.

Human Rights Experts: Mexico must redouble efforts to protect journalists

Mexico must take bold steps to address the violence faced by journalists, two human rights experts have stated after a week-long official mission examining freedom of expression in the country.

“Violence against journalists has been a crisis for Mexico for more than a decade, and yet, despite the Government’s creation of protection and prosecution mechanisms, impunity and insecurity continue to characterize the situation throughout the country,” said David Kaye and Edison Lanza, Special Rapporteurs on freedom of expression for the United Nations and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

“In this situation, we urge the Government to rapidly and substantially increase the resources available to the mechanisms which have been set up to deliver protection and accountability. Mexico has already taken the laudable step of creating these institutions; now it should give them the tools to be effective.

“The need to address protection and accountability will be especially critical in 2018, when Mexicans will vote in federal, state and local elections. Ensuring the safety of journalists enables them to gather and disseminate information on matters of the highest public interest,” the experts said, in a joint statement at the end of their visit.

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