Somalia remains the global capital of unsolved murders of journalists

The Sept. 2016 funeral of Abdiasis Ali Haji, a slain Somali journalist. (Reuters/Feisal Omar)
By Yomi Kazeem
With militant group al-Shabaab waging war and the government suppressing press freedom, being a journalist in Somalia is a difficult, and even life-threatening, job.
The Committee to Project Journalists’ 2016 Global Impunity Index “spotlights countries where journalists are slain and the killers go free.” For the second straight year, Somalia is ranked as the worst country in the index.
The annual ranking is based on the number of unsolved murders (cases with no convictions) over a 10-year period as a share of a country’s population. It defines murder as “a deliberate attack against a specific journalist in relation to the victim’s work,” and excludes cases where journalists are killed in combat, street protests, or while covering other dangerous events.
Somali journalists have mostly been targeted by militant sect al-Shabaab, with 24 unsolved murders over the past decade. In addition to Somalia, South Sudan and Nigeria are the other African countries that rank high in the index as dangerous places to be a reporter.
The index only features countries with more than five unsolved murders, which is 13 in the latest edition (it was 14 the year before). However, data compiled from these 13 countries “account for 80% of the unsolved murders that took place worldwide” over the past decade, the committee says.
Even so, the report notes some progress. The share of countries in the rankings that have convicted the killers of journalists doubled in the past year. But to put that in context, full justice—prosecution and conviction of perpetrators in journalist murder investigations—has been achieved in only 3% of cases over the decade.
2016 Global Impunity Index

Rank (previous) Country

  1. (1) Somalia
  2. (2) Iraq
  3.  (3) Syria
  4.  (4) Philippines
  5. (5) South Sudan
  6. (8) Mexico
  7. (7) Afghanistan
  8. (9) Pakistan
  9. (11) Brazil
  10. (10) Russia
  11. (12) Bangladesh
  12. (13) Nigeria
  13. (14) India
  14. N/A (6) Sri Lanka


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