14 Countries Literally Getting Away with Murder

October 30, 2015   |   Michaela Whitton

Michaela Whitton
October 30, 2015

(ANTIMEDIA) United Kingdom — In 2013, the United Nations adopted November 2nd as the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.

Most of us would hope that if we suffered a brutal death while carrying out our jobs, our fate would be investigated and the perpetrators convicted. Sadly, this is not the case in many countries around the world — including so-called democracies with functioning law enforcement and judicial institutions.

Over the past decade, over 700 journalists have been killed for bringing news and information to the public. Only one in ten cases has resulted in a conviction.

To highlight this disturbing trend, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) carried out detailed research for over a decade and produced the 2015 Global Impunity Index to spotlight 14 different countries where journalists are murdered while their killers go free.

After examining the murder of every journalist in the world between September 1st, 2005 and August 31st, 2015, the index uncovered the nations where at least five journalists were murdered and no perpetrators were convicted.

Cases are considered unsolved when no one is held accountable for the crime or if suspects are killed during apprehension. Situations where the perpetrators were held to justice were classed as partial impunity and therefore not counted in the five case threshold.

In at least four out of every ten murders, the journalists received threats before they were killed, which authorities rarely investigated. At least 96% of journalists were local reporters, the majority of whom covered politics and corruption in their home countries.

Almost a third were taken captive before their deaths and the majority were tortured in clear attempts to send messages of intimidation to the media.

Political groups, including armed factions, were the suspected perpetrators in 46% of murder cases. Government and military officials were leading suspects in almost 25%.

Highlighting the present culture of impunity, half of the countries on the 2015 index (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, India, South Sudan, Somalia, and Syria) failed to provide information on their investigations for UNESCO’S 2014 Safety of Journalists and the Danger of Impunity report.

Below is the 2015 Global Impunity Index. It shows the 14 countries where at least five journalists were murdered without a single perpetrator being convicted. The index covers murders that took place over the last decade.

  • Somalia — 2.857 unsolved murders per million inhabitants
  • Iraq — 2.414 unsolved murders per million inhabitants
  • Syria — 0.496 unsolved murders per million inhabitants
  • The Philippines — 0.444 unsolved murders per million inhabitants
  • South Sudan — 0.420 unsolved murders per million inhabitants
  • Sri Lanka — 0.242 unsolved murders per million inhabitants
  • Afghanistan — 0.158 unsolved murders per million inhabitants
  • Mexico — 0.152 unsolved murders per million inhabitants
  • Pakistan — 0.119 unsolved murders per million inhabitants
  • Russia — 0.076 unsolved murders per million inhabitants
  •  Brazil — 0.053 unsolved murders per million inhabitants
  • Bangladesh — 0.044 unsolved murders per million inhabitants
  • Nigeria — 0.028 unsolved murders per million inhabitants
  • India — 0.008 unsolved murders per million inhabitants

This short video was jointly produced by The Public Liberties and Human Rights department at Al Jazeera in cooperation with several international organizations that promote press freedom to help raise awareness of the dangers of impunity.


This article (14 Countries Literally Getting Away with Murder) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Michaela Whitton and theAntiMedia.org. Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. If you spot a typo, email edits@theantimedia.org.

Author: Michaela Whitton

Michaela Whitton joined Anti-Media as its first journalist abroad in May of 2015. Her topics of interest include human rights, conflict, the Middle East, Palestine, and Israel. Born and residing in the United Kingdom, she is also a photographer.

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