Explaining the killings of journalists by state authorities

  • Tue 24 Oct 17

    14:00 - 15:30

  • Colchester Campus

  • Event type

    Lectures, talks and seminars

  • Event organiser

    Government, Department of

  • Contact details

    Lucas Leemann


Prof. Sabine Carey is Professor of Political Science with focus on conflict research at the University of Mannheim. Before joining the University of Mannheim in 2010, she worked at the University of Nottingham and spent one year at Harvard University. She is currently co-editor of the American Political Science Review. She received her PhD from the University of Essex in 2003. Her research primarily analyses different forms of human rights violations and the escalation of political violence, as well as the role of pro-government militias, supported by an ERC Grant (“Repression and the Escalation of Violence”, ERC-2013-StG 336019). 

Abstract: Journalists play an important role in society by providing different views, divergent sources of information and transparency through investigative research. For this they are frequently targeted, harassed, and even killed. We ask why and under what conditions journalists are killed by state authorities. We specify the conditions under which killing journalists can serve as a low-cost and short-term strategy of local politicians to prevent the spread of unfavourable information. Building on previous research, we theorise that corruption within state institutions significantly shape the risks attached to killing members of the press. However, only in countries with democratic institutions that make political power conditional on electoral support will state authorities have an incentive to silence journalists. Therefore, democratic countries with high levels of institutional corruption and low levels of accountability are more likely to see journalists killed through state authorities than other regimes. To test our theoretical expectations, we present new global data on the killing of journalists between 2002-2016. Our findings consistently show that more democratic regimes when combined with corruption and lack of judicial accountability significantly increase the risk for journalists to be killed by state authorities. Independent of corruption, democratic institutions do not help to improve the safety of journalists, even in the case of well-established democratic regimes. 

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