Three years ago, on November 23, 2009, 30 journalists and two media workers were brutally killed in the southern Philippine city of Maguindanao while travelling in a convoy with the family and supporters of a local politician. To this day, not a single suspect has been convicted, though local authorities have identified close to 200. The botched trial has been stalled with procedural hurdles. Victims' families have been threatened and key witnesses have been slain.
Approximately 30 journalists are targeted and murdered every year, and on average, in only three of these crimes are the killers ever brought to justice. Other attacks on freedom of expression occur daily: bloggers are threatened, photographers beaten, writers kidnapped. And in those instances, justice is even more rare. Today, the Committee to Protect Journalists joins freedom of expression advocates worldwide in a 23-day campaign to dismantle one case at a time a culture of impunity that allows perpetrators to gag journalists, bloggers, photographers and writers, while keeping the rest of us uninformed.
Bangkok, September 5, 2012--Philippine authorities must immediately investigate the murder of a radio journalist, establish the motive, and bring the perpetrators to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Some weeks ago, the body of Esmail Amil Enog was found. The corpse had been chopped to pieces and then thrown together in a sack. Enog was a witness in a grisly massacre in November 2009, which took the lives of 57 people, 32 of them journalists, on a stretch of lonely highway in the southern Philippine province of Maguindanao. It was the single largest attack on journalists in the world.
The climate of impunity that fostered the November 23, 2009, massacre of 57 people, including 32 journalists, is alive and well not only on the southern Philippines island of Mindanao, where the massacre took place, but in all of the country. The revelation that the brutalized body of a key witness to the killings, Esmail Enog, was found two months after he had gone missing is an indicator of that. Enog testified last year that he had driven gunmen to the site of the November massacre, news reports said. The killings wiped out almost an entire generation of journalists in the region.
Romeo Olea's unsolved murder is tragically typical of media killings in the Philippines. Before his death, the radio commentator had received anonymous threats over his reports on local government corruption.
The global rate of unpunished murders remains stubbornly high at just below 90 percent. Senior officials in the most dangerous countries are finally acknowledging the problem -- the first step in what will be a long, hard battle. By Elisabeth Witchel