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Killing a journalist won’t kill the story

Guest post from Drew Sullivan – Publisher, Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, OCCRP

Posted by: Olga Komarova | 2. November 2021

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Today is international day to end impunity for crimes against journalists.

As the publisher at OCCRP, crimes against journalists are something I encounter too often. We take serious measures to protect our journalists and have strict physical and digital security training protocols, but threats have become a constant part of the job.

You may have seen the disheartening statistic that 9 out of 10 journalist murders go unsolved. At OCCRP, we want the powerful to know that killing a journalist won’t kill the story.

We work with our reporting partners to raise the costs and eliminate any benefit of these heinous attacks. We do this by finishing a journalist’s work, reporting further on the people in those stories, and scrutinizing any investigation of the crime. After the 2018 murder of our friend and partner Ján Kuciak and his fiance Martina Kušnírová in Slovakia, OCCRP led a team of reporters to continue his reporting into the infiltration of organized crime in the country as well as investigate those behind his assassination.

After the 2016 murder of our friend Pavel Sheremet in a Kyiv car bombing, we collected hundreds of hours of surveillance video and tracked down many of the people in the footage. The resulting documentary, Killing Pavel, showed how the police failed to investigate key figures including a former intelligence officer who had spent most of the night before the car bombing outside Pavel’s apartment.

In 2017, we helped form the Daphne Project, a global effort that finished the work of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia after she was killed in a car bombing that year — work we continue to this day. In 2020, we detailed major discrepancies in the murder investigation of Regina Martínez in Mexico for the Cartel Project. Both collaborations were led by Forbidden Stories.

And earlier this year, OCCRP revealed new information about the murky murder investigation of Azerbaijani journalist Elmar Huseynov, who was gunned down in 2005 in the stairwell of his Baku apartment building.

Ján Kuciak, Pavel Sheremet, Daphne Caruana Galizia, Regina Martínez, Elmar Huseynov

When we lose a journalist, we are deprived of their stories and investigations, but also of their collaboration, mentorship, wisdom, and example as a role model. We feel those losses every single day of what would have typically been decades of work. It’s a stunningly profound blow. But there is much we are doing and can do to mitigate these risks.

As we kick off our end of year membership campaign, I hope you’ll consider donating and becoming an OCCRP Accomplice. The more support we have, the more work we can do to protect and honor journalists in worst-case scenarios — it’s that simple.

Support OCCRP’s work and journalists

Drew Sullivan is the co-founder and editor of OCCRP, Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, a consortium of investigative centers, media and journalists operating in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, Central Asia and Central America.

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