Group: Phillippines Is Most Dangerous Country for Journos, After Iraq

By: (AP) The Philippines is the world's most dangerous country for journalists after Iraq because attackers are rarely punished, an international media watchdog said Wednesday, increasing pressure on the government to take action.

Jean Francois Julliard, a representative of Reporters Without Borders, said at the end of a fact-finding visit that more journalists are killed in the Philippines not only because of a widespread gun culture, but the judicial system's failure to take action against the killers.

The Paris-based group has recorded 51 journalists killed in the Philippines since democracy was restored in 1986. Last year, it listed six slain Filipino journalists, and two this year.

"We think one explanation of the high number of journalists killed in the Philippines is the culture of impunity," Julliard said.

"Why? Because ... nobody has been arrested, nobody has been sentenced so they can repeat [the crime]," added Vincent Brossel, another group member.

The two representatives visited five cities to look into some of the killings. They plan to publish the results later this month.

Another media group, the Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists, has recorded 66 journalists killed since 1986, including 13 last year.

Reporters Without Borders says it uses different criteria from the IFJ, listing only those journalists who were killed strictly in the line of duty.

Both organizations concluded the Philippines had the second-highest number of journalists killed after Iraq last year.

Brossel criticized police and the justice department for failing to solve the killings, saying that most cases are declared solved once suspected killers are arrested and charged, while masterminds of the attacks remain free.

Ethical standards and pay for journalists must be raised, representatives said, noting that poorly paid journalists often take second or third jobs, complicating their work as reporters.


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