October 8, 2015

For the first time since 2008, Iraq isn’t at the top of Committee to Protect Journalists’ annual Impunity Index. The annual report details countries where journalists are killed with no resulting convictions. This year, the top spot went to Somalia.

The report, which was released Thursday, includes 14 countries where at least five journalists were murdered and no one was convicted of those murders. According to the index, “around 96 percent of victims are local reporters. The majority covered politics and corruption in their home countries.”

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From the report:

Not one year has passed over the last decade without a journalist being murdered in civil war-wracked Somalia, which first appeared on the index in 2008. At least 30 journalists have been murdered without any consequence for the perpetrators in this index period, the majority targeted by Al-Shabaab militants who for years have threatened and assaulted journalists in relation to their coverage of the group’s activities. While the government has pinned its impunity problem on the political instability and shortage of resources inflicted by 20 years of civil war, journalists say authorities fail to conduct even minimal investigations when journalists are killed. In April, unidentified armed men broke into the home of Daud Ali Omar at night and killed him and his wife while they were sleeping. Daud was a producer for a privately owned, pro-government radio station, and local journalists and police said they suspected Al-Shabaab was responsible.

Somalia ranks 172 of 180 on Reporters Without Borders’ 2015 World Press Freedom Index.

Somalia continues to be Africa’s deadliest country for journalists. Three were killed and several others wounded in 2014. The Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab was largely to blame for the violence. At the same time, the authorities adopted draconian legislation, closed independent radio stations and ordered journalists not to cover Al-Shabaab’s activities. In northern Somalia’s self-proclaimed autonomous regions of Puntland and Somaliland, hounding journalists is a favourite pastime for officials, who care little about the law. Police raids, closures and trials on absurd charges are the preferred methods for gagging journalists and news outlets.

The rest of CPJ’s top 10 this year are:

2. Iraq
3. Syria
4. The Philippines
5. South Sudan
6. Sri Lanka
7. Afghanistan
8. Mexico
9. Pakistan
10. Russia

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Kristen Hare covers the people and business of local news and is the editor of Locally at Poynter. She previously worked as a staff writer…
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