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Top 5 Current Affairs: 19 April 2019

India’s rank in the World Press Freedom Index 2019 dropped down to 140th from 138th in 2018, two points below the previous year.

Apr 19, 2019 17:35 IST

India's rank slips to 140 in World Press Freedom Index 2019

The Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on April 18, 2019 released the World Press Freedom Index 2019, reflecting growing animosity towards journalists. India’s rank in the World Press Freedom Index 2019 dropped down to 140th from 138th in 2018, two points below the previous year.

As per the Index, one of the most striking features of the current state of press freedom in India is violence against journalists including police violence, attacks by Maoist fighters, criminal groups and corrupt politicians. At least six Indian journalists were killed on duty in 2018.

The year 2018 witnessed a surge in attacks against journalists by supporters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the run-up to Indian General Elections 2019.

Mental illness ground to spare death row convicts from gallows: SC

The Supreme Court of India on April 18, 2019 directed that mental illness of people on death row, if developed post-conviction, would now be a mitigating factor for appellate courts for sparing them from the gallows.

The ruling was passed by a three-judge bench comprising Justices M M Shantanagoudar and Indira Banerjee, headed by Justice NV Ramana. The bench was faced with complex questions concerning the relationship between mental illness and crime and as to how culpability of a convict can be assessed if he develops a mental condition after the court finds him guilty.

Indian peacekeepers awarded UN Medal of Honour for their service in South Sudan

The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) on April 15, 2019 honoured 150 Indian peacekeepers, serving the mission, with Medals of Honour for their supreme dedication and sacrifices in Malakal, South Sudan.

The award ceremony consisted of parades and performances by a piped band. Colonel Amit Gupta was among the recipients of the medal of honour. Gupta commands a battalion of 850 soldiers in the Upper Nile region of South Sudan. Under his command, Indian peacekeepers conducted highly desired veterinary camps and run a veterinary hospital in Malakal.

Mali's Prime Minister resigns along with his entire government

Mali's Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga resigned along with his entire government on April 18, 2019 following criticism over their handling of an upsurge of violence in the centre of the country and a massacre last month that left 160 people dead.

Maiga’s government came under mounting pressure over handling the violence in the restive Mopti region. The rage was rising especially after a massacre on March 23 in which 160 people were killed in the village of Ogossagou near the border with Burkina Faso.

First female astronaut candidate of USA Jerrie Cobb dies

NASA's first female astronaut candidate, pilot Jerrie Cobb, has recently died. Cobb died in Florida at age 88 last month. News of her death came on April 18, 2019 from journalist Miles O'Brien, serving as a family spokesman.

In year 1961, Cobb became the first woman to pass astronaut testing. Altogether, 13 women passed the arduous physical testing and became known as the Mercury 13. But NASA already had its Mercury 7 astronauts, all jet test pilots and all military men. None of the Mercury 13 ever reached space, despite Cobb's testimony in 1962 before a Congressional panel.