List includes some usual suspects . . .
Four Asian democracies made this year’s Global Impunity Index, a ranking of countries whose journalists are killed in retaliation for their reporting, but whose murderers go unpunished. The Index is produced by The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an independent non-profit focused on press freedoms around the world. The four Asian countries were not new to the Index: The Philippines (#5), Pakistan (#8), and India (#13) have made the list all 12 years that it has been produced. Bangladesh (#10) has made the list for nine years.
Dark stain on press freedoms in South, Southeast Asia . . .
Unlike others named in the Index, the four Asian countries represent relatively “stable countries where criminal groups, politicians, government, officials, and other powerful actors resort to violence to silence critical and investigative reporting.” A case in point is the Philippines, which has consistently ranked in the top five. Its Index score includes 32 journalists and other media workers killed in the 2009 Maguindanao Massacre. Like other Filipino and Filipina journalists who have been killed in the line of duty, many of those victims were looking into corruption allegations. The trial of more than 100 suspects is expected to conclude this month, but so far no one has been held accountable. The Philippines’ Index score worsened this year. Bangladesh and India had “no change,” and Pakistan’s score “improved.”
Press freedom not a bright spot in the region . . .
Asia as a whole has plenty of room to improve on press freedoms. According to Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index, which produces a top-200 ranking, four Asian states place in the bottom 10: North Korea (#179), China (#177), Vietnam (#176), and Laos (#171). Papua New Guinea ranks highest, at 38, followed by South Korea (#41) and Taiwan (#42). (Canada ranks #18.) It seems that press freedom and the safety of reporters has not kept pace with the region’s impressive economic success.
- Committee to Protect Journalists: Getting away with murder: Global Impunity Index 2019
- Human Rights Watch: Maguindanao massacre
- Reporters Without Borders: 2019 World Press Freedom Index