South Asia has worst record of solving journalists’ murders


New York : South Asian countries, including India, are among the worst at prosecuting the killers of journalists, according to a new report from a US organisation that promotes press freedom the world over.

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In the Impunity Index, prepared for the first time, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has listed 13 countries, including all the South Asian nations, for a poor record in terms of number of unsolved journalist murders in the past decade as a percentage of the population in each country.

Iraq is the worst case, followed by Sierra Leone (2nd) and Somalia (3rd).

While India’s press comes in for praise as “one of the world’s freest”, it gets on the Impunity Index because of five unsolved murders, making it a country where “politics and organised crime are dangerous stories to cover”.

The five victims were local reporters. Among them is Prahlad Goala, who was run down by a truck and then stabbed in 2006 after writing about timber smuggling in Assam.

In Pakistan, eight journalists have been murdered with impunity since 1998. The victims include reporter Hayatullah Khan, who was kidnapped in the tribal region of North Waziristan in 2005 and found dead several months later.

In Sri Lanka, the report said, journalists are more likely to be murdered than to die in crossfire in ethnic conflicts. The victims, mostly ethnic Tamils, include Mylvaganam Nimalrajan, shot in his home in 2000. Nimalrajan’s murder is among eight unsolved cases here.

In Bangladesh, eight journalist murders are unsolved, including that of veteran correspondent Manik Saha, killed when leftists threw a bomb at him when he was riding a rickshaw in 2004.

In Nepal, five journalist murders remain unsolved. Four of the victims were abducted and executed while in captivity.