Mexican journalists gather around pictures of murdered colleagues as they protest the recent killings of journalists Margarito Martinez and Lourdes Maldonado, in Veracruz, Mexico, on January 25, 2022. (Reuters/Yahir Ceballos)

Killers of journalists continue to evade justice worldwide

New York, November 1, 2022 – In the decade since the United Nations launched a Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, no one has been brought to justice in nearly 80% of the 263 cases of journalists murdered in retaliation for their work worldwide, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists’ 2022 Global Impunity Index, published Tuesday. The annual index is a striking reminder of the need for urgent interventions on behalf of journalists globally. An early collaborator on the U.N. plan, CPJ renews its call for action by governments to prioritize journalist safety.

“We’ve seen a dramatic rise in the abusive tactics used to silence journalists, from spyware technology to spurious legal charges,” said CPJ President Jodie Ginsberg. “On top of these mounting threats, journalists are being murdered in retaliation for their work with near total impunity. This lack of justice empowers perpetrators to continue silencing the press.”

Myanmar is included on the index for the first time this year, highlighting the country’s press freedom crisis one year after it joined the ranks of the world’s worst jailers of journalists. Since the February 2021 coup, Myanmar’s military junta has used overreaching anti-state and false news laws to suppress independent reporting and to jail journalists in record numbers. 

For the eighth year running, Somalia remains the worst offender on the index. Syria, South Sudan, Afghanistan, and Iraq, respectively, round out the top five, as political instability, conflict, and weak rule of law impede accountability for attacks on journalists. 

Authoritarian rule and conflict are not the only contributors to rampant impunity. Democratically elected governments in countries like Mexico, the Philippines, and Brazil continue to fall short, as violence against journalists soars and national protection mechanisms prove ineffective. With 28 unsolved murders in Mexico in the past 10 years, the most of any nation on the index, there appears to be little political will to seek justice. 

“The U.N. Plan of Action provides a blueprint but, ultimately, national governments are the ones who must deliver on protection and justice. We need to see thorough, independent investigations to stem violence against journalists – and political and economic consequences for those who fail to carry out such investigations,” said Ginsberg.

CPJ’s Global Impunity Index calculates unsolved journalist murders as a percentage of a country’s population. The 2022 index examines journalist murders that occurred between September 1, 2012, and August 31, 2022, for which no convictions have been obtained. Only countries with five or more unsolved cases are included on the index. Read more about our methodology here