A guest post by Rumee Singh...
Journalists in South Asia are at 'severe risk' according to a new report released by the Committee of Protected Journalists. CPJ, a New York-based media watchdog compiles and analyzes deaths of journalists. Its recent report lists 14 countries with unresolved cases of murders of journalists. Iraq, Sierra Leone and Somalia topped the impunity index list, but six out of the 14 are South Asian nations: Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India. [see last year's report]
Sri Lanka falls fourth on the list with 9 unsolved cases, while Pakistan ranks tenth with 10 unsolved cases. Rankings are based on the CPJ impunity index, which is calculated as a percentage of a country's population and covers the years 1999 through 2008. [more on their methodology]
From the CPJ report: Getting Away With Murder
South Asian journalists face particularly severe risks. The already murderous conditions for the press in Sri Lanka and Pakistan deteriorated further in the past year. “We’re distressed to see justice worsen in places such as Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Our findings indicate that the failure to solve journalist murders perpetuates further violence against the press,” said Joel Simon, CPJ executive director. “Countries can get off this list of shame only by committing themselves to seeking justice.”
Here's a quick breakdown by countries:
The CPJ reported nine unsolved cases and an increase in attacks against reporters including the fatal killing of Lasantha Wickramatunga, editor of a newspaper strongly critical of the government and its military campaign against the Tamil Tigers. See our earlier coverage of his death.
Afghanistan: Rank 7
Afghanistan has seven unsolved murder cases. The CPJ reported 'rampant drug trafficking and armed militias combine with a weak central government and local political corruption to create a wide berth for the killers of journalists. Most of the victims were international journalists covering the ongoing armed conflict.'
Nepal ranked eighth with five unsolved cases of murder; four out of the five are believed to have been perpetrated by Maoist rebels during Nepal’s decade-long civil conflict, the CPJ said. This year, Uma Singh a radio journalist was hacked to death by more than 15 men in Janakpur in western Nepal.
Pakistan: Rank 10
In Pakistan, ten journalists have been murdered with impunity since 1998 including three reported killed in 2008. Another TV reporter Musa Khankhel was shot dead in Swat district in February.
Seven murders have gone unsolved in Bangladesh. Victims include, Kamal Hossain, a crime reporter whose decapitated body was found hours after his abduction in 2004.
India ranked 14th with seven cases of unsolved murders. The CPJ said "despite the country’s strong democratic tradition and robust press, seven journalist murders have gone unsolved in the last 10 years." On Wednesday, a newspaper editor was shot dead by gunmen in Guwahati, Assam (Reuters).