We received an unusual email last week. Michaella Ortega wrote to tell us that Marlon Recamata, who confessed to shooting her father, Philippine journalist Gerardo Ortega, in 2011, had been convicted and sentenced to life for the crime.
Representatives from 40 Pakistani and international press groups, development organizations, and media houses came together in Islamabad last week to discuss ways to better protect local journalists at risk of violence, and means to combat the virtually perfect record of impunity that assailants enjoy in this country. It's none too soon. Three journalists have died already in Pakistan this year, and more than 40 have been killed over the past decade. About two dozen have been targeted for murder. On the eve of the March 6-7 conference, members of an ARY Television news crew were shot and beaten by thugs in Hyderabad. The attack attests to the dangerous situation in Pakistan where journalists routinely face threats from an array of sources; where reporters working on dangerous beats have little protection; and where law enforcement response to anti-press attacks is nearly nonexistent.
Questions surrounding the death of Dennis Aranas, accomplice-turned-witness to the murder of Filipino journalist Gerardo Ortega, have increased over the past week. Their answers beg yet another question: will the masterminds behind Ortega's murder succeed in eluding justice?
More than 11 years have passed since investigative journalist Martin O'Hagan was murdered near his home in Lurgan, Northern Ireland, and the case has not been solved. Last week Northern Ireland's public prosecutor announced a major setback to the case that has colleagues worried it never will be.
In the eight years since unidentified assailants shot and killed Deyda Hydara of the Gambia, no one has been held to account. The late 2004 murder of Hydara, an immensely respected editor, columnist, and press freedom advocate known for his criticism of President Yahya Jammeh's repressive media policies, became a rallying point for Gambian journalists and the human rights community--a symbol of the violent means by which activists and journalists are silenced and of the impunity that envelops acts of intimidation, ranging from arson to torture and murder.
More than 40 media organizations worldwide are demanding urgent action by governments, the United Nations, and the industry to stop violence against journalists and end impunity in attacks on the press. They made their position known in a joint statement delivered today to the U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
CPJ has received an encouraging letter from Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, Brazil's permanent representative to the United Nations, affirming the country's support for the UNESCO-led U.N. Plan of Action for Security of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.
As Nepal's constituent assembly failed to meet Sunday's deadline for the passage of a new constitution, a new report released this week on the risks to Nepal's media should remind political parties that peace and stability are not prerequisites to media freedom but rather that a strong, independent press operating without fear is a requirement for a healthy civil society.
Brazil, Pakistan, and India--three nations with high numbers of unsolved journalist murders--failed an important test last month in fighting the scourge of impunity. Delegates from the three countries took the lead in raising objections to a U.N. plan that would strengthen international efforts to combat deadly anti-press violence.
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