attacks against media

No or insufficient progress in key journalist killings – IPI

Gelo Gonzales

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No or insufficient progress in key journalist killings – IPI

KHASHOGGI. In this file photo, the Committee to Protect Journalists and other press freedom activists hold a candlelight vigil in front of the Saudi Embassy to mark the anniversary of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul, in Washington, USA on October 2, 2019.

Sarah Silbiger/Reuters

The International Press Institute says lack of political will is a major obstacle, as investigations may threaten those in power

MANILA, Philippines – The International Press Institute (IPI) said on Thursday, November 2, International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, that no progress has been made in 6 of 11 journalist killings it highlighted in 2022 which illustrate how rare it is for states to investigate such cases. 

When investigations do start, these cases “stall or lack the necessary independence and transparency,” and cases that proceed to prosecution are even “rarer,” with trials being exceptionally slow. 

“Those who are prosecuted are usually the hired killers, while those ultimately responsible for planning and orchestrating these crimes too often elude justice,” IPI said.  

The 6 cases for which no progress has been made include:

  • IPI World Press Freedom Hero Shireen Abu Akleh;
  • Pakistani journalist Shan Dahar who was killed in 2014 for reporting on the unauthorized sale of medicines;
  • Ghana’s Ahmed Hussein-Suale, killed in 2019 after helping reveal corruption in African football;
  • Jamal Khashoggi, murdered on the orders of high-level Saudi officials in 2018;
  • Ibraimo Mbaruco, who disappeared in 2020 during his conflict coverage in northern Mozambique;
  • Regina Martinez Perez, a Mexican crime reporter killed in 2012.
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In the five remaining cases, progress has stalled or has been insufficient, said the institute. 

The main reason it is difficult to obtain justice in these cases is a lack of political will, the IPI said, because such investigations threaten to reveal truths that would implicate those in power, and threaten interests, or reveal further corruption.  

“We reiterate that states have a duty under international law to investigate attacks on journalists promptly, thoroughly, and independently, and to prosecute those responsible,” the IPI said as rates of impunity remain “unacceptably high.” 

The situation has become even more dire, the institute said, as conflict rages in Gaza, Ukraine, Haiti, Ethiopia, the Sahel, and Yemen. It reminded that the state still has an obligation to investigate journalists’ deaths in conflict zones, and that a “deliberate attack on a journalist during a situation of armed conflict constitutes a war crime – and must be investigated as such.”

The UNESCO estimates that it is only 1 in 10 cases where criminals responsible face justice.

The IPI’s full update on the cases can be found here. –

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Gelo Gonzales

Gelo Gonzales is Rappler’s technology editor. He covers consumer electronics, social media, emerging tech, and video games.