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Philippines

2012

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Syrian violence contributed to a sharp rise in the number of journalists killed for their work in 2012, as did a series of murders in Somalia. The dead include a record proportion of journalists who worked online. A CPJ special report

A journalist dodges gunfire in the Syrian city of Aleppo. (AFP/Tauseef Mustafa)
(AFP/Pedro Pardo)

Almost half of the 67 journalists killed worldwide in 2012 were targeted and murdered for their work, research by the Committee to Protect Journalists shows. The vast majority covered politics. Many also reported on war, human rights, and crime. In almost half of these cases, political groups are the suspected source of fire. There has been no justice in a single one of these deaths.

The tortured and decapitated body of 39-year-old María Elizabeth Macías Castro was found on a Saturday evening in September 2011. It had been dumped by the side of a road in Nuevo Laredo, a Mexican border town ravaged by the war on drugs. Macías, a freelance journalist, wrote about organized crime on social media under the pseudonym "The Girl from Laredo." Her murder, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, was the first in which a journalist was killed in direct relation for reporting published on social media. It remains unsolved.

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.

Will UN plan address impunity, security for journalists?

A woman stands next to a banner reading "No more impunity" in Colombia. (AFP/Raul Arboleda)

Here are the facts:

  • A journalist is killed in the line of duty somewhere around the world once every eight days.
  • Nearly three out of four are targeted for murder. The rest are killed in the crossfire of combat, or on dangerous assignments such as street protests.
  • Local journalists constitute the large majority of victims in all groups.
  • The murderers go unpunished in about nine out of 10 cases.
  • The overall number of journalists killed, and the number of journalists murdered, have each climbed since the 1990s.

Journalists march in Manila to mark the second anniversary of the massacre of at least 57 people, including 32 journalists, in Maguindanao on November 23, 2011. The International Day to End Impunity commemorates the massacre. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

New York, November 8, 2012--Authorities in the Philippines must immediately investigate the shooting death of radio journalist Julius Cauzo and bring the perpetrators to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

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.

Protesters rallied against the cybercrime law in front of the Supreme Court building in Manila on Tuesday. (AFP/Noel Celis)

On Tuesday, the Philippines Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order stopping the government from enforcing the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 which President Benigno Aquino III signed into law last month. The court, in full session, ordered that oral arguments for and against will start January 15. And it gave the government 10 days to respond to the many petitioners seeking to declare the law unconstitutional.

Filipino journalists show petitions against the Cybercrime Prevention Act that they submitted to the Supreme Court in Manila on Wednesday. (AP/Aaron Favila)

In a notoriously litigious country like the Philippines, it's bewildering that the government coupled a law targeting so-called cybercrimes like cybersex, child pornography, identity theft, and spamming with the hoary and over-used concept of libel. And no matter how abusive those crimes may be, it's an even bigger mystery why the government felt it should suspend its lengthy heritage of due legal process by giving the Department of Justice power to shut down websites and monitor all online activities without a warrant.

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.

2012

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Killed in Philippines

76 journalists killed since 1992

74 journalists murdered

66 murdered with impunity

Attacks on the Press 2012

3rd Impunity Index ranking, reflecting a terrible record in combating anti-press violence.

Country data, analysis »

Contact

Asia

Program Coordinator:
Bob Dietz

bdietz@cpj.org

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