Report: 80% of journalist murders unpunished, EU less safe for media

Almost 80% of journalist killings have gone unpunished, with four murders in European Union member states of Greece, Malta, Slovakia and the Netherlands remaining unsolved, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists Global Impunity Index 2023.

The report documents 261 journalists murdered in connection with their work between 1 September 2013, the first-ever International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists and 31 August 2023. It found that no one has been held to account for 78% of cases during this period.

The index does not include journalists killed in the Israel-Hamas war, which began on 7 October, as it falls outside of the range of the index. But according to Reporters Without Borders, at least 34 journalists have been killed to date, mainly in Gaza.

“As journalist murders continue to go unpunished in nearly 80% of cases globally, in both democracies and authoritarian countries, the message is clear: journalists are fair game,” said CPJ President Jodie Ginsberg.

“Murder is the ultimate form of censorship. Swift, transparent, independent local investigations are critical, and political will can change the course of justice to stem the pervasive impunity in cases of journalists killed for their work,” Ginsberg added.

In simple terms, the reality is that nearly four out of every five killers of journalists are still getting away with murder.

The report found that the top 12 countries where journalist murderers are likely to remain unpunished are outside of the EU, with Syria at the top of the list (14 unsolved murders) at the top of the list, followed by Somalia (11), Haiti (6) and South Sudan (5). Afghanistan, Iraq, Mexico, Philippines and Myanmar are also on the list.

But CPJ noted that press freedom is coming under increasing pressure within the EU despite being considered one of the safest places to pursue the profession.

It continues that in Malta and Slovakia, the murders of Daphne Caruana Galizia and Jan Kuciak are still unsolved, while Greece has failed to hold anyone to account for the murders of Sokratis Giolias and Giorgos Karaivaz.

In the Netherlands, nine suspects are on trial for the shooting of Peter R. de Vries, something which does little to relieve the “chilling effect” the crime had on journalists, Dutch crime reporter Paul Vugts told CPJ.

According to CP J, since 1992, when they began recording instances of murdered journalists, only 5% of cases have seen full justice. CPJ said factors like international pressure, universal jurisdiction, and changes in government can play a crucial role in securing punishments.

“Unpunished murders have an intimidating effect on local journalists everywhere, corroding press freedom and shrinking public-interest reporting,” the report notes.

It also found that international pressure can be a key part of attaining justice, noting that a CPJ report into journalist killings by the Israeli military found authorities were more likely to investigate those where the victims had foreign passports.

“The degree to which Israel investigates, or claims to investigate, journalist killings appears to be related to external pressure,” noted the report.

Reasons listed by CPJ for failures in getting justice include conflict, corruption, insurgency, inadequate law enforcement and a “lack of political interest in punishing those willing to kill independent journalists.”

“As impunity becomes entrenched, it signals an indifference likely to encourage future killers and shrink independent reporting as alarmed journalists either flee their countries, dial back on their reporting, or leave the profession entirely.


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Adrian Micallef
Adrian Micallef
3 months ago

In the meantime, around 30 journalists were murdered in Palestine, in the last few weeks and not one word about them. Shame on you. It seems that Arab journalists’ lives are worth less than European journalists’ lives. What hypocrites!

Adrian Micallef
Adrian Micallef
3 months ago
Reply to  Alice Taylor

Yes you are right, a fleeting mention in an article titled ‘EU Less safe for media’. With all the articles, The Shift has published over recent years, condemning the murder of each and every European journalist, one would expect a clear specific article condemning 30 or so journalists killed in Palestine in the last 3 weeks but anyway maybe I am expecting too much.

Adrian Micallef
Adrian Micallef
3 months ago
Reply to  Alice Taylor

Thank you for your reply, Alice. I wish I had the skills to write a decent article. I find it despicable that the family of one of the most prominent Palestinian journalists Wael Al Dahdouh, including his wife, his daughter (7) and son (15) were killed in a TARGETED air strike, by the Israeli Air Force, right after American Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, told Israel to tone down reports coming out from Al Jazeera and not one newspaper in Malta decided to cover this. If only this type of attack was carried out on a European Journalist, everyone would be screaming and tearing their hair off and would expect multiple articles covering this story.

I apologise for taking it out on you but you seem to be the only news outlet with some sort of social conscience, in this damn country and it’s a big pity these things are not reported. Wouldn’t expect any better from all the other local newspapers.

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