Sri Lanka, where violence against journalists has receded since the end of a decades-long civil war, has dropped off the latest Global Impunity Index of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) for the first time since CPJ began calculating the index in 2008.
The Impunity Index, published annually to mark the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists on November 2, calculates the number of unsolved murders over a 10-year period as a percentage of each country’s population.
For the latest edition, CPJ analyzed journalist murders in every nation that took place between September 1, 2006 and August 31, 2016. Only those nations with five or more unsolved cases for this period are included on the index-a threshold that 13 countries met this year, compared with 14 last year.
CPJ recorded only four unsolved murders in Sri Lanka for the latest 10-year period, leading to its elimination from the index.
Amid the country’s becalmed political climate, no journalist there has been murdered in direct connection to journalism since editor Lasantha Wickramatunga was killed in 2009. Justice has not been achieved in any murder-despite a pledge from President Maithripala Sirisena to re-investigate old killings-but Wickramatunga’s case inched forward this year with one arrest and the exhumation of the editor’s body for a new post-mortem examination.
Impunity is widely recognized as one of the greatest threats to press freedom, and international pressure to address it has mounted in recent years, with states, including some of the repeat offenders on this list, beginning to respond.
Six countries on the index-Bangladesh, Brazil, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, and Somalia-convicted perpetrators of journalist killings in the past year, up from three countries in the previous year’s report.
In another positive development, more countries on this year’s index participated in UNESCO’s impunity accountability mechanism, which requests information on the status of investigations into killed journalists for the U.N. agency’s biennial report on journalist safety.
Eight of the 13 countries on the Impunity Index have been listed each year since CPJ began the annual analysis in 2008, an indication of how entrenched impunity is in some nations. (Colombo Gazette)