Journalists around the world face a variety of threats as they try to do their jobs. These men and women face blackmail, exile, imprisonment, assault and murder. One such case recently highlighted by the U.S. State Department on World Press Freedom Day, was the killing of Khadzhimurad Kamalov.
Mr. Kamalov was the founder and publisher of the popular newspaper Chernovik in the province of Dagestan in Russia's North Caucasus. Under his leadership, Chernovik reported widely on local government corruption and on the arbitrary detention, torture and extra-judicial killings of militant suspects by security forces. Between 2008 and 2011, authorities arrested five Chernovik journalists on the charge of “extremism,” which the newspaper successfully defeated in court. Authorities also harassed the paper with official summonses and financial audits, and attempted unsuccessfully to shut down the paper in 2009.
On December 14, 2011, Mr. Kamalov was shot fourteen times as he left work by a masked gunman who escaped into a waiting car.
Police have opened an investigation into Mr. Kamalov’s murder, but no one has been arrested or charged in the case. The State Department says his death and the lack of justice that has followed have had a chilling effect on press freedom in Dagestan.
International media monitors have ranked Russia among the most dangerous countries for reporters. Since 2000, seven journalists have been killed in the North Caucasus region alone – four of them in Dagestan. All seven murders remain unsolved. Many other attacks on journalists in Russia, like the 2004 murder of Paul Klebnikov and the 2006 killing of Anna Politkovskaya also remain unsolved.
The United States calls on Russia to end the culture of impunity for those who attack or kill journalists, by bringing the perpetrators to justice.
On World Press Freedom Day, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton paid tribute to those around the world who have dared to report on what is happening, even when their own lives are at risk. “Their imprisonment and intimidation is a global injustice,” said Secretary Clinton. “When a free media is under attack anywhere, all human rights are under attack everywhere.”