Journalists' murders most likely to go unsolved in Iraq: study

Iraq has the worst track record when it comes to solving cases of murdered journalists, according to a new survey by a U.S. journalism protection organization.

Iraq has the worst track record when it comes to solving cases of murdered journalists, according to a new survey compiled by a U.S. journalism rights organization.

The Committee to Protect Journalists compared the prosecution rates in journalists' murders around the world and came up with a list of the 13 worst countries on the basis of unsolved killings per capita.

The non-profit committee only counted journalists who were deliberately targeted and killed because of their profession, or the work they had done. There had to be no convictions in a case for it to be considered unsolved.

The worst rated countries are:

  • Iraq: 79 unsolved journalist murders in a total population of 28 million (rate of 2.82 murders per million people).
  • Sierra Leone: 9 murders among 5.5 million people (rate of 1.64).
  • Somalia: 5 murders among 8.2 million people (rate of 0.61).
  • Colombia: 20 murders among 45.6 million people (0.44).
  • Sri Lanka: 8 murders among 19.6 million people (0.41).
  • Philippines: 24 murders among 83.1 million people (0.29).
  • Afghanistan: 7 murders among 25.1 million people (0.28).
  • Nepal: 5 murders among 27.1 million people (0.19).
  • Russia: 14 murders among 143.1 million people (0.10).
  • Mexico: 7 murders among 103.1 million people (0.07).
  • Bangladesh: 8 murders among 141.8 million people (0.06).
  • Pakistan: 8 murders among 155.8 million people (0.05).
  • India: 5 murders among 1,094.6 million people (0.01).

"Every time a journalist is murdered and the killer is allowed to walk free, it sends a terrible signal to the press and to others who would harm journalists," Joel Simon, the committee's executive director, said Wednesday in a press release.

"The governments on this list simply must do more to demonstrate a real commitment to a free press. Lip service won’t help save journalists’ lives. We are calling for action: thorough investigations and vigorous prosecutions in all journalist homicides."

He noted that many of the countries listed are not at war and have functioning legal systems, such as Mexico, India and the Philippines.

In war-torn countries, like Iraq, journalists were more likely to be murdered than caught in the crossfire during combat.

Almost none of the victims were foreign journalists; most were journalists covering their home countries.