Nigeria today joined the list of countries where journalists are routinely murdered and assaulted without any convictions for their attackers.
Amid Islamic militant activity in the North and politically inspired violence across the country, at least five journalists have been murdered due to their work since 2009. None of the cases have been solved. Many more have been attacked.
The Committee for the Protection of Journalists timed the release of its 2013 Impunity Index for World Press Freedom Day, today, as journalists around the world remember reporters, cameramen, researchers and editors who have been killed, injured, imprisoned or harassed for their work.
The Independent’s owner Evgeny Lebedev this week launched its Voices In Danger campaign to highlight the plight of reporters being silenced in such regimes, and is featuring regular interviews in the newspaper and online with the journalists themselves, their colleagues and families.
Ayode Longe, a senior officer with the Nigerian press freedom group Media Rights Agenda, said: “Investigations into the killings are usually carried out with sloppiness, and no real culprits are caught. That has emboldened others to assault journalists, believing nothing would be done to them.”
It is the first time Nigeria has been in the Impunity Index, following a decade or so of relative safety for the media.
Many of the attacks are made on those covering the Muslim extremist group Boko Haram. Local TV journalist Enenche Akogwu, who also contributed reports for the Reuters news agency, was shot and killed last year by Boko Haram members when he was interviewing witnesses of a terror attack in the city of Kano. No charges are thought to have been brought despite the incident being in front of a crowd.
Sri Lanka, which this week was at the heart of controversy over whether it was a fit country to host the Commonwealth Heads of Nations summit this year, is the fourth worst country for murders with impunity.
The CPJ had better news from Nepal and Russia, where conditions were improving. Nepal dropped off the list altogether. In its report, the organisation said: “Although both nations remain dangerous for the press, both have seen a general decline in deadly anti press violence and a handful of partly successful prosecutions in journalist murders.”
Brazil, which had improved in recent years, reappeared on the list following a three-year spree of murders, particularly targeting online journalists and bloggers. Four were killed in the country last year alone. The worst countries remained Iraq, Somalia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka.
Read more on the Voices in Danger website today.