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Ampatuan massacre becomes a rallying cry for global journalists

MANILA, Nov 23  – On the second anniversary of the brutal Ampatuan massacre, journalists worldwide have also marked November 23, 2011 as the first International Day to End Impunity.
Fifty-eight people, including 32 journalists, were killed in the town of Ampatuan in Maguindanao province in Mindanao, Philippines on November 23, two years ago.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) said it wants the anniversary to be a day of remembrance for all journalists killed worldwide to raise awareness about the scandal of impunity and the failure of governments to bring killers to justice.
Efforts must also be made to find ways to make journalism safer, the group said.
“This global event provides us with an opportunity to denounce the prevailing culture of impunity for crime committed against journalists in many countries of the world and call for its end,” the IFJ said in a statement.
Various events are being held worldwide on Wednesday to highlight the issue.
The International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) has also launched a Facebook page and a website to spread the word on the event.
“The day will be a platform… to demand that journalists’ killers do not go free, and to ensure that our colleagues working in countries with continuous and rampant impunity feel that their work is valued and their life is treasured,” the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said.According to the CPJ’s 2011 Impunity Index, Iraq once again ranked the highest in terms of unsolved murders (92) in the past 10 years.
Somalia and the Philippines joined Iraq at the top of the index.
“Impunity is a key indicator in assessing levels of press freedom and free expression in nations worldwide,” said the CPJ. Efforts are being made in the fight against impunity, according to journalists.
In the Philippines, “the counter-impunity campaign involves initiatives to reform the problematic criminal justice system,” the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) said. This includes amending the penal code to modifying the government’s witness protection program.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines is also leading local efforts in fighting apathy toward impunity.
“I do think our best chance of combating impunityis  by working together with our partners on the ground, and not giving up our struggle. Concerted international advocacy works,” IFJ Asia-Pacific’s Jacqui Park said. (MNS)

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