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Ending Impunity

Ending Impunity

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CMFR's statement on the first year commemoration of the Ampatuan Massacre, the worst single attack on journalists in recent years.
CMFR's statement on the first year commemoration of the Ampatuan Massacre, the worst single attack on journalists in recent years.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility on Nov 25, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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07/20/2013

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Ending Impunity
 
 Nov. 23, 2010
 
Statement of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility in commemoration of the first anniversary of the Ampatuan Massacre
THE 2009 Ampatuan Massacre of 58 men and women including 32 journalists was a reminder and a warning to both the Philippine press and the entire country.The Philippines is officially a democracy, but the pockets of warlord power that have beenallowed to flourish in at least a hundred localities mock that claim. In places like Maguindanao, private armies decide elections and also wield the power of life or death over the men andwomen under warlord rule.In those places, the Massacre also demonstrated, the power of the written and spoken word thatmany assume protect journalists and media workers is already meaningless. The 32 journalistsand media workers killed who had accompanied the wife and kin of the then candidate for Maguindanao governor in filing his certificate of candidacy were supposed to protect the group,despite the fact that before the massacre, 81 journalists had been killed in the line of duty since1986.Although the worst incident of violence against journalists, the Ampatuan Massacre occurred inthe context of the culture of impunity that has persisted in the Philippines. That culture hasallowed and encouraged not only the killing of journalists, but also of political activists, judges,lawyers, human rights workers and other citizens. While officially at peace, the killing of  journalists and media workers, and of over a thousand others killed extrajudicially, has also mademany localities virtual war zones.The new Aquino administration has the opportunity—by increasing the budget for witness protection, improving police efficiency, and enhancing the prosecutorial capacity of theDepartment of Justice, among others—to help end impunity.The state failure to address the killing of journalists, and state involvement in extra judicialkillings (EJKs), have made the culture of impunity the biggest threat to free expression anddemocracy in the Philippines. The dismantling of that culture, CMFR has pointed out manytimes, is predicated on punishing the killers and masterminds in the killings, whether that of  journalists or of political activists.The sheer number of journalists killed in the Ampatuan Massacre, and the perils of warlord ruleit demonstrated, have made the apprehension, trial and punishment of the killers andmasterminds especially crucial. If its perpetrators are not punished, not only will it prove once

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