India remains among a handful of countries on an annual index of places with the worst records of punishing those behind the murders of journalists. The “impunity index”, prepared by the Committee to Protect Journalists, has 14 countries this year. India is one of seven countries that have been on the list every year since it was first released in 2008. Somalia, Iraq, the Philippines, Mexico, Pakistan and Russia are the others.
The organisation releases the list to mark the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, which falls on November 2. Countries are ranked on the basis of the number of unsolved murders of journalists over a decade as a percentage of their population. Those with five or more such cases make it to the index.
The 2018 list analysed murders of journalists between September 1, 2008 and August 31, 2018. India had 18 unsolved cases in the period. Somalia, Syria and Iraq – countries ridden with conflict during the period – lead the list. South Sudan, Afghanistan, Colombia, Brazil, Bangladesh and Nigeria also figure on the index.
The Committee to Protect Journalists also measured “political will to address impunity”, based on whether governments had participated in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s impunity accountability mechanism, which seeks information on the status of investigations into journalists’ murders. Five of the 14 countries on the index, including India, did not respond to that request, the report said.
The index counts deliberate murders of journalists for their work, and not those killed in combat or while on dangerous assignments. Cases where no one has been convicted were treated as “unsolved”.
The index in 2017 had 12 countries.