Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Media: Media freedom watchdog releases report on impunity in Southeast Asia

Source: Southeast Asian Press Alliance

(SEAPA/IFEX) - Bangkok, 20 November 2012 - At least 100 cases related to impunity against the exercise of freedom of expression have been recorded in Southeast Asia for 2012, according to the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA).

SEAPA, a media freedom advocacy NGO, released a brief report of its count of impunity-related incidents in 2012 today, as it began a series of activities to mark the International Day to End Impunity (IDEI) on Friday 23 November [1].

[See online summary of the report 'Impunity in Southeast Asia [2012]' on Prezi]

According to SEAPA executive director Gayathry Venkiteswaran, the numbers mean that there is a lot of work to do in the region to end the culture of impunity.

"SEAPA looks not only at acts of violence, but also at legal action of states to suppress the right of freedom of opinion and expression," she explained, noting that of the 100 cases, 29 were committed by states in the name of the law.

The culture of impunity in the region has two faces: the first is that perpetrators of violence are able to escape punishment for their crimes. Without fear of consequences, perpetrators continue to carry out such acts.

Also, according to SEAPA, states commit impunity by prosecuting acts of freedom of expression. This not only creates a climate of fear among citizens and journalists, but also emboldens some groups to attack those who express critical messages.

The group counted the 100 cases through its media monitoring and alerts system, which publicises acts of violations of the right to freedom of expression in Southeast Asia.

[1] Freedom of expression advocacy groups around the world chose the date, 23 November, as the global day to end impunity because it is the anniversary of the Ampatuan massacre of 58 persons including 32 journalists and media workers in Maguindanao, southern Philippines. It is the world's deadliest single attack against journalists.