Woefully low. Ten deaths since 2010, 24 attacks and ten threats in 2012 alone!We need to step up campaigns to end impunity and ensure media freedom, says GEETA SESHU. Pix: Chaitali Santra, hoot.org
Posted/Updated Friday, Nov 23 13:44:30, 2012

On the International Day to End Impunity, observed on November 23 to mark the Ampatuan massacre in which 32 journalists died in the Philippines in 2009, let’s take a look at how India fares in the impunity index.

Ten deaths since 2010; 24 attacks and ten threats in 2012 alone. That’s what we have from the Free Speech Tracker.(Click here for complete list).

According to a host of journalists’ organisations, India’s ranking on impunity and on freedom of expression is pathetic. The Committee to Protect Journalists has put India amongst the 12 nations worldwide who have five or more cases of impunity – where journalists deaths have not been either investigated or resulted in any convictions; Reporters without Borders (RSF) ranks India as 131 out of 179; Freedom House says that India is ‘partly free’ in internet freedom and of course Google’s Transparency report, released recently, provides damaging evidence that India is second only to the USA for seeking the take down of content.

The international Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) has launched a stirringcampaign against impunity to mark the Ampatuan massacre. (The Amputan massacre marks the killing of 58 persons, including 32 journalists and media workers, on Nov 23, 2009. The journalists were covering the elections in the Philippines and the controversy over the filing of the candidacy of the then vice mayor (now governor) of Maguindanao, EsmaelMangudadatu. The others who died in the massacre include lawyers and election campaigners).

Closer home, in South Asia, Pakistan still ranks as the deadliest place for journalists. According to a report prepared by the South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN),the murder of SaleemShehzad in May 2011 marked the lowest point in its impunity index. In Sri Lanka, journalists have been forced into exile while others were either murdered, notably Sunday Leader editor LasanthaWickrematunge, or disappeared, like cartoonist PrageethEknaligoda. In Bangladesh, journalist couple SagarSarowar and MeherunRuni were murdered in February 2012 while in Nepal, the impunity that cloaks the deaths of journalist has resulted in a climate of self-censorship.

The Free Speech Hub of the Hoot, which has been tracking freedom of expression since 2010, has the most chilling statistics: Ten journalists have lost their lives since 2010. Here’s our list:

Hemchandra Pandey(July 2010)

Bimala Prasad Talukdar(September 2010)

Sushil Pathak(December 2010)

Umesh Rajput (January 2011)

J Dey(June 2011)

Ramesh Singhla(October 2011)

Chandrika Rai(February 2012)

Rajesh Mishra (March 2012)

Raihan Nayum (Septemer 2012)

Chaitali Santra (September 2012)