UN calls for ending impunity for crimes against journalists

NEW YORK, U.S. - The latest United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) report suggests that a journalist is killed in every four-and-a-half days.  The ...

• Arab region tops the list of journalist deaths

• Western European countries and North America witnessing increasing number of journalists’ death

• Print medium journalists top the list with 316 deaths

NEW YORK, U.S. - The latest United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) report suggests that a journalist is killed in every four-and-a-half days. 

The report which was released on Wednesday, claims that in the last decade, 827 journalists had been killed while on duty. 

The worst hit areas were Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Libya. 

According to the Safety of Journalists and the Danger of Impunity report, Latin America is the next worst affected region.

59 percent of the deaths have been in the conflict zone, according to the report that assessed a decade (2006-2015). 

The Arab region being the first in the list accounting for 78 deaths out of 213, in the last two years alone. 

The numbers in the Western European countries have also leapfrogged to 11 from none in 2014.

Medium wise, print media journalists top the list with 316 deaths in the course of ten years. 

This was followed by 234 TV journalists, 171 radio, 64 web and 42 cross-platform journalists. 

The report said, “The extent of the risks faced by journalists is demonstrated by the 827 killings recorded by UNESCO over the course of ten years.”

“To this, one needs to add the countless other violations endured by journalists, which include kidnappings, arbitrary detention, torture, intimidation and harassment, both offline and online, and seizure or destruction of material,” it added.

In an event hosted by the Permanent Mission of Greece to the UN, along with the UNESCO, Ambassador Catherine Boura of Greece in her opening remarks said, “The International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists should remind us of our duty to confront the viscous cycle of impunity.”

“It is our priority to secure a safe environment which will guarantee freedom of speech and expression as well as access to information for all,” she added.

“Let’s not forget that every case of a journalist or media worker harassed, injured, arbitrarily detained or killed is an assault to freedom of expression and a threat to the foundations of open and democratic society,” she said.

Meanwhile in Afghanistan, at least 11 journalists have been killed and hundreds more forced to flee from fighting in the first 10 months of this year, making it the deadliest year for the country.

The Afghan Journalists Safety Committee, a local media watchdog has said that more than 60 journalists have been killed in the country in the past 16 years and authorities never investigated those deaths.

Pernille Dahler Kardel, the Deputy Social Representative of UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said, “The cycle of violence and impunity in Afghanistan has been a longstanding challenge, but has been particularly troubling for journalists over the course of the last year. However, deaths in the conflict zones are not the only problem journalists are dealing with. According to Kardel, journalists also face such situations while reporting corruption cases. She said, “Impunity emboldens perpetrators and feeds into a vicious cycle. Fear and self-censorship among the media are real issues that end up denying the public the right to information and diminishing confidence in the rule of law.”

The participants in the panel were Frank La Rue, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information; Mazen Darwish, Syrian journalist and President of the Syrian center for Media and Freedom of Expression; and Courtney Radsch, Advocacy Director of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

One of the most notable presence was Abdalaziz Alhamza, the journalist who lost his colleague and co-founder of ‘Raqqa is being Slaughtered Silently,’ the information campaign launched by non-violent activists to expose the atrocities committed towards the civilian population of Raqqa. The campaign won CPJ’s 2015 International Press Freedom Award. 


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