The growing problem of impunity for attacks against journalists

2010 seems, so far, to be a particularly bloody year for journalists. In countries all around the world journalists have been attacked and killed by private citizens, without the States in question providing protection or conducting investigations and punishing those responsible.

In Europe, the European Court of Human Rights condemned Turkey for not preventing the death of Fırat Dink, an Armenian-Turkish reporter in 2007, despite that State being aware of the death threats against him. As yet, there have been no convictions in Mr. Dink’s murder. Meanwhile, Article XIX and International Media Support called on Belarus, Russia and the Ukraine to increase the protection of journalists and end the impunity of those who attack them. The deaths of journalists like Georgiy Gongadze in Ukraine in 2000; Anna Politkovskaya in 2006 and of Natalia Estemirova in 2009 both in Russia and the disappearance of Dmitry Zavadsky in Belarus in 2000 remain unsolved.

In Uganda Dickson Ssentongo, a news anchor with Prime Radio, was beaten to death with a metal bar by unidentified men. Paul Kiggundu, a Top Radio reporter, was beaten to death by motorcyclists while on duty. Stuart Yiga, a reporter and photojournalist with the ‘Red Pepper’ publication, was beaten up by a city lawyer in Kampala. Mubiru Kakebe, a photojournalist with the ‘New Vision’ publication was also beaten up in Kampala. In Mr. Yiga’s case, his assailant was identified and in Mr. Kiggundu’s case, police arrested five suspects but these arrests are rare.

In Nepal Dinanath Baral, a reporter for “Radio Annapurna”, was severely on 15 September beaten by an unknown individual. His assailant has yet to be apprehended.

In Ecuador Mayra Emilia Aguilar Dueñas, the manager of Milagro City TV, and her husband, were found dead after having been abducted. The public prosecutor ordered the arrests of Wilson Criollo Ríos and Khaterine Salcedo for alleged participation in the kidnapping. Investigations are ongoing. In Guatemla Marvin Del Cid Acevedo, an investigative reporter for “elPeriódico”, has been robbed and threatened twice in the past four months. The robberies have yet to be resolved by the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Journalists and Labour Union Members.

In Iraq Alaa Mohsen, a television host on state-run Al-Iraqiya television, was seriously injured in a bomb under his car. This is the third attack on journalists since U.S. forces ended combat missions: Safaa Al-Dine Abdul Hameed, presenter for Al-Mosuliyah was shot dead in Mosul on 8 September and Riad Al-Saray, also of Al-Iraqiya presenter, was shot dead in Baghdad on 7 September. These incidents remained unsolved.

However, on 1 October in Columbia the Attorney General’s office linked two former congressmen, Francisco Ferney Tapasco González and his son, Dixon Ferney Tapasco Triviño, to the murder of Orlando Sierra Hernández in 2002. Mr. Hernández was actually shot by Fernando Soto Zapata but the Attorney General’s office decided to investigate the two former congressmen as instigators of the murder.

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