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Int'l media group launches digital campaign vs impunity

November 26, 2012 9:48am

As part of its commemoration of the third anniversary of the Maguindanao massacre, an international media watchdog group has launched a digital campaign to fight impunity against media workers.
The Committee to Protect Journalists said the campaign, "Speak Justice: Voices against Impunity," seeks to "break the cycle of fear and silence that allows journalists to be killed and their killers to walk free."
"More than 630 other journalists have been targeted and murdered worldwide in direct retaliation for their reporting since 1992, CPJ research shows. Like those killed in Maguindanao, a vast majority were local reporters covering issues of vital importance to their communities: corruption, politics, crime, conflict and human rights. At least four in 10 were threatened before they were killed. One in 10 was tortured," said María Salazar-Ferro, CPJ’s Impunity Campaign and Journalist Assistance Program coordinator.
In Manila, she noted that of the 58 people killed in Ampatuan town in Maguindanao on Nov. 23, 2009, 32 were media workers.
Up to now, she lamented not a single suspect has been convicted, though local authorities have identified close to 200.
Also, she said the botched trial has been stalled with procedural hurdles, with victims' families being threatened and key witnesses slain.
"The killers' message is clear: Journalists, be silent or die. But the message from authorities is also unambiguous. With perpetrators behind bars in only one of 10 cases, there seem to be no obvious consequences for those who use murder to censor the press," she said.

A number of media people have been killed over the years in the country. During the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, 79 journalists were killed in the line of duty, while 10 journalists have been killed during the currenty Aquino administration, according to the Center for Media Freedom Responsibility
Ferro said that as a result, journalists working in countries where their colleagues have been murdered with impunity tend to self-censor.
They tend to avoid dangerous beats, and ignore risky stories, she said.
"Developments (in) corruption, politics, crime, conflict, and human rights go unreported. People living in their cities and countries go uninformed, and are unable to hold power accountable. They are collectively stripped of their basic right to information," she said.
Ferro said the new campaign aims to "fight impunity from the ground up, one voice at a time."
A trailer on the site tells of the silencing of journalists worldwide.
Those killed had been reporting on corruption, conflict, human rights, crime and politics, it said.
It warned of a "silence fueled by fear" that allows justice systems, law enforcement and governments to "sustain and support injustice."
"This silence makes us uninformed, unable to speak up. Today you break the cycle. Speak up. Demand justice. Uncover the truth. End violence," it said. — RSJ, GMA News
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