5 things that have happened 5 years since...
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Nov 23, 2014  |  Vote 0    0

5 things that have happened 5 years since history’s deadliest attack on journalists

Five years since the Maguindanao massacre, when 58 people — including 32 journalists and media workers — were slaughtered in the Philippines, there has not been a single conviction

OurWindsor.Ca

Sunday marks five years since the Maguindanao massacre, when 58 people — including 32 journalists and media workers — were slaughtered on a grassy hilltop in Ampatuan, a small town in the southern Philippine province of Maguindanao.

The journalists were accompanying a convoy of lawyers and supporters of a local politician preparing to announce his candidacy against a member of the Ampatuan clan, which is accused of masterminding the massacre.

They were forced out of their vehicles, lined up and executed, their bodies dumped in open pits. It was the single deadliest attack on journalists in history.

Here’s what has happened in the five years since.

1. There have been no convictions.

Though Philippine President Benigno Aquino III promised swift action and 192 people have been accused — including 15 members of the Ampatuan clan — there have been no convictions.

The case has been stalled, journalists banned from the trial and witnesses and relatives silenced with cash and even violence.

This, despite countless protests and campaigns by groups worldwide demanding answers.

This week, Denniz Sakal, a former driver for one of the chief suspects, was the fourth witness to be killed. He was on his way to meet state prosecutors.

2. In the Philippines it’s getting worse for journalists.

The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility in the Philippines says 23 journalists were killed in the first 40 months of Aquino’s tenure — the worst rate since 1986.

“The fact that not one person has been prosecuted in Maguindanao is unbelievable,” says Annie Game, executive director of the global free expression network IFEX, based in Toronto. “What a message that sends to the families of those murdered, not to mention the Philippines and the rest of the world about the killing of journalists.”

3. Internationally, nine out of 10 murders of journalists go without convictions.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 370 journalists were murdered in the past 10 years. The killers are not arrested or convicted 90 per cent of the time.

While the Philippines is one of the worst offenders, Iraq and Somalia top the group’s 2014 list. Syria, with many fatalities in combat and crossfire, was an addition this year.

4. There’s now a UN day against “impunity”.

The UN proclaimed Nov. 2, 2014, the first International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists. It urged member states to implement real ways to counter “impunity” — crimes going without punishment — as well as to promote a safe environment for journalists to work independently.

5. In Canada, journalists marked the day by drawing attention to the muzzling of climate scientists at home.

According to Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, Ottawa has been shutting the public out of environmental research, especially around climate science.

“With climate science defunded, research libraries dismantled, and scientists laid off in droves, a chill has been created around climate in Canada, with no repercussions for the government’s extreme controls over content and messaging,” says CJFE programs lead Laura Tribe.

See how their event unfolded here.

Toronto Star

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