UNESCO, the United Nations cultural organization whose brief includes media issues, reported that an overwhelming majority of killings of journalists across the world go unpunished.
“Impunity for killings of journalists remains unacceptably high at 86 percent,” it said, as it called for “all necessary measures to ensure that crimes committed against journalists are properly investigated and their perpetrators identified and convicted.”
The organization called the global impunity rate for journalist killings “shockingly high” in a report to coincide with the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, a UN-backed initiative.
UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said in a statement that “freedom of expression cannot be protected when there is such a staggering number of unresolved cases,” stressing that impunity had a “chilling effect on investigative reporting.”
Although UNESCO observed a 9-percentage-point drop in the impunity rate over the past decade, this was insufficient to stop what it called “the spiral of violence.”
In 2020 and 2021, the period covered by the report, of the 117 journalists murdered for doing their job, 91 were killed while off the clock.
In the Philippines, this impunity is being put to test by the October 3 killing of Percival “Percy Lapid” Mabasa, where the investigation has taken several interesting twists and turns, after the confessed gunman surrenders and fingers an alleged middleman from inside the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City who turns out to have been killed by asphyxia or suffocation by an independent autopsy by top forensic pathologist Raquel Fortun, a conclusion that is in conflict with the Bureau of Corrections statement that pointed to natural cause of death or lack of foul play.
Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla has declared the Mabasa case in the “last phase of the investigation” as authorities apparently train their sights on “two masterminds.”
Hopefully this investigation into this latest brazen killing of a journalist in the country can break the spiral of violence by winning one round against the culture and atmosphere of impunity that has been dominating the scene for far too long.*