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Two African states among the highest with impunity

afrol News, 23 March - The Committee to Protect Journalists has placed Sierra Leone and Somalia amongst the highest in the 2009 Impunity Index for their failure to resolve crimes and murder against journalists.

The committee said Sierra Leone’s high mark is an indicator of past killed journalists during the 1999 civil war, but as for Somalia’s, the high ranking depicts an ongoing pattern of impunity towards killed journalists that is likely to continue.

CPJ Africa programme coordinator Tom Rhodes said the ongoing pattern of impunity of killed journalists in war torn Somalia, spells disaster for the country’s media freedom and freedom of expression. Somalia which has been without the functioning government since 1991, has two journalists that were killed this year alone with no suspects arrested.

Mr Rhodes said although evil murder of journalists has taken place in other developed countries, the failure to solve cases of journalist's murders will only perpetuate violence against the press.

Sierra Leone which is the second on the top 14 countries has nine unsolved murders that took place in January 1999, when Revolutionary United Front rebels pushed into Freetown during Sierra Leone’s civil war.

The “Operation No Living Thing,” as the assault was called, targeted journalists and thousands of other citizens deemed anti-rebel. The victims included newspaper editor Paul Mansaray, who died with his wife, two young children, and a nephew when rebels shot him and set his house ablaze. There have been no convictions associated with these cases. The country was ranked number two in the 2008 reports.

Somalia, ranked number three in the world, has six journalistss murders that have gone unsolved in the last decade. The victims included Nasteh Dahir Farah, a reporter and vice chairman of the National Union of Somali Journalists, who was shot while walking home from an Internet cafe in Kismayo in June 2008. It still stood at number three last year.

CPJ's Impunity Index, compiled for the second year, calculates the number of unsolved journalist murders as a percentage of a country’s population. CPJ examined every nation in the world for the years 1999 through 2008. Cases are considered unsolved when no convictions have been obtained.

Only those nations with five or more unsolved cases are included on this Index, a threshold reached by 14 countries this year according to CPJ.

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