CPJ Journalist Security Blog

Pakistan


Two murdered journalists for the Africa service of Radio France Internationale, Ghislaine Dupont, 51, and Claude Verlon, 58, might have had a chance. They were abducted on November 2 in Kidal in northern Mali, but the vehicle their captors were driving suddenly broke down, according to news reports.

Activists protest impunity in journalist murders in the Philippines. (AFP/Noel Celis)

Gerardo Ortega's news and talk show on DWAR in Puerto Princesa, Philippines, went off as usual on the morning of January 24, 2011. Ortega, like many radio journalists in the Philippines, was outspoken about government corruption, particularly as it concerned local mining issues. His show over, Ortega left the studios and headed to a local clothing store to do some shopping. There, he was shot in the back of the head. His murder underlines the characteristics and security challenges common to many of the killings documented as part of CPJ's new Impunity Index: A well-known local journalist whose daily routines were easily tracked, Ortega had been followed and killed by a hired gunman. He had been threatened many times before in response to his tough political commentary, a pattern that shows up time and again on CPJ's Impunity Index.

Journalists in Islamabad demonstrate against journalist murders and the lack of security surrounding the press. (Reuters/Faisal Mehmood)

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.

A woman stands next to a banner reading "No more impunity" in Colombia. (AFP/Raul Arboleda)

Here are the facts:

  • A journalist is killed in the line of duty somewhere around the world once every eight days.
  • Nearly three out of four are targeted for murder. The rest are killed in the crossfire of combat, or on dangerous assignments such as street protests.
  • Local journalists constitute the large majority of victims in all groups.
  • The murderers go unpunished in about nine out of 10 cases.
  • The overall number of journalists killed, and the number of journalists murdered, have each climbed since the 1990s.

Covering political rallies in Pakistan must be considered a dangerous assignment. One journalist was killed and three others injured on Sunday when gunmen opened fire on a Pakistan People's Party (PPP) rally in Khairpur in Sindh province. All told, at least six died and 10 were wounded critically.

Fishermen on the Nile, where chemical dumping has been reported. (AP/Ben Curtis) He's young,
unemployed and carries himself with the innocence of a man who hasn't spent
much time outside his own village. But Egyptian blogger Tamer
Mabrouk
is the real deal. Appearing at an international media conference in Bonn, Mabrouk's description of chemical dumping into a
brackish lagoon on the northern Nile Delta near the Mediterranean Sea was
punctuated by photos of unmistakable filth. He won over the audience when, in
response to a question on how one travels with sensitive material, Tamer deftly
removed a memory card secreted in an electronic device and held it in the air.
That, he said, is where he had carried documents for this trip.

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