A year after the brutal killing of Russian investigative reporter Anna Politkovskaya sent shock waves around the world of journalism the crisis of impunity in the targeted killing of reporters is intensifying warns the International Federation of Journalists.
The IFJ, the world’s largest journalists’ organisation, today called for renewed efforts to end impunity and said that 2007 is likely to set a new high-water mark the number of journalists killed over their work.
The IFJ says that around 148 journalists and media workers worldwide have been killed so far in 2007, only a handful short of the total for last year which broke all previous records.
“Journalists around the world will spend this weekend reflecting on Anna’s shocking death which has come to symbolise the hundreds of journalists who are targeted and killed each year for their work,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “Too often the killings go uninvestigated and unpunished. On the rare occasions when the people who carried out the murders are found guilty those who gave the orders have remained beyond the law.”
Politkovskaya, an internationally renowned Kremlin critic who regularly exposed human rights abuses by Russian forces in Chechnya, was shot in the entrance to her block of flats on 7th October 2006. Her assassination sparked protests and demonstrations around the world in sympathy for her family and demanding justice.
After months of silence the investigation came alive in August when the police arrested ten suspects including former officials from the Federal Security Service (FSB), Russia’s interior ministry and a criminal gang led by an ethnic Chechen. Two of the suspects were later released and the District Military Court announced that the arrest of the FSB officer was not connected with the Politkovskaya inquiry. Meanwhile an 11th suspect, Shamil Burayev, the former head of the Achkhoi-Martan administrative district of Chechnya, was arrested in September.
Disturbingly however, within a week of the arrests Pyotr Garibyan, the detective leading the investigation, was replaced. Garibyan, who has impressed Politkovskaya’s family and colleagues for his professionalism, remains on the case, but many fear he has been demoted for his success. Meanwhile there were further criticisms after the General Prosecutor, Yuri Chaika, announced that the murder was almost certainly planned by Russian enemies abroad attempting to destabilise the country.
“While it is too soon to pass judgment on the investigation we do urge the Russian government to provide the investigators with all the support required and not to interfere or obstruct the work,” said White.
Russia has one of the highest death rates among journalists of any country in the world with 289 recorded deaths since 1993. In the past year seven other Russian journalists have died including Anatoly Voronin, Ilya Lukash, Vadim Kuznetsov, Konstantin Borovko, Ivan Goryaev-Sandji, Ivan Safronov and Leonid Etkind
For more information contact the IFJ at 32 2 235 2207 or 32 478 258 669
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 114 countries worldwide