World Association of News Publishers

Impunity for Killers of Journalists Threatens Freedom of Expression

Impunity for Killers of Journalists Threatens Freedom of Expression


Media employees worldwide continue to face physical violence and persecution of all kinds, whether from public officials, criminals or terrorists. Assaults are daily - and often deadly - for those who challenge governments, report on conflict or investigate corruption and crime, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) said Wednesday in its annual review of press freedom worldwide.

44 journalists have been killed so far in 2011 and hundreds of media employees have been harassed, threatened or physically attacked. Impunity prevails in many parts of the world for the perpetrators as they seek to influence or mislead public opinion by targeting a free press, said the report, presented to the Board of WAN-IFRA, meeting in Vienna on the eve of the World Newspaper Congress and World Editors Forum.

Some 1,100 newspaper publishers, chief editors, managing directors and other senior newspaper executives were gathering in Vienna for the Congress and Forum, the global meetings of the world's press.

The press freedom review said attacks against the media continue to make Pakistan one of the world’s deadliest for journalists. In the last 10 years, 36 journalists have been  targeted and killed and none of their cases have been brought to court. In 2010, the country was the world’s deadliest for the press; in 2011, eight  journalists have already lost their lives.

Violence and impunity remain Mexico’s major challenges in terms of press freedom. The Mexican government’s so-called “war on drugs” has had devastating consequences for the Mexican media. According to WAN-IFRA research, 30 media professionals have been killed since the start of the government’s offensive in December 2006, with most of the perpetrators remaining at large.

The report said:

- Media professionals across the Americas are increasingly exposed to the wave of violence resulting from the conflict between drug-trafficking syndicates and government authorities. Populist regimes’ intolerance of dissent or scrutiny has led to increasing harassment of the critical and independent press through criminal defamation legislation. More than ever before, governments have become the biggest enemies of press freedom in the region.

- In Asia, established democracies have seen a rise in impunity, censorship
and violence against journalists in the past year.

- Press freedom continues to suffer from a deep-rooted culture of impunity,
intimidation and harassment in certain parts of Central and Eastern Europe
and Central Asia.

- Despite the fall of dictatorships across the Middle East and North Africa,
little progress has been made in installing legislation that will protect the
freedom of the press in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. Governments in other Arab
states have been obliged to make concessions to pro-reform demonstrators in
order to remain in power, but promises of change have likewise brought little
improvement in terms of media freedoms.

- A culture of unrelenting violence, harassment and intimidation, particularly
alongside elections, continues to stifle freedom of expression across the African continent. Sweeping anti-terrorism laws, criminal defamation and treason charges are regularly used to detain local and foreign journalists who criticise or question authority.

The report, with region-by-region details, is available to download from the WAN-IFRA website at

Details of the cases of journalists murdered in 2011 can be found at

The World Newspaper Congress and World Editors Forum can be followed during the week at

WAN-IFRA, based in Paris, France, and Darmstadt, Germany, with subsidiaries in Singapore, India, Spain, France and Sweden, is the global organisation of the world's newspapers and news publishers. It represents more than 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries. Its core mission is to defend and promote press freedom, quality journalism and editorial integrity and the development of prosperous businesses.

Inquiries to: Larry Kilman, Director of Communications and Public Affairs, WAN-IFRA, 96 bis rue Beaubourg, 75003 Paris France. Tel: +33 1 47 42 85 00. Fax: +33 1 47 42 49 48. Mobile: +33 6 10 28 97 36. E-mail:

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