23.11.2011 - UNESCO

UN Plan to stop impunity of crimes against journalists

© SXC.hu/Shlomit Wolf

On the occasion of the first International Day to End Impunity (23 November) declared by the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX), UNESCO would like to remember all those journalists who lost their lives while seeking the truth and whose cases still remain unpunished. The question of the safety of media workers and how to combat impunity is a fundamental prerequisite for achieving freedom of expression and democracy and must be addressed.

In this regard UNESCO, as the UN agency mandated to “promote the free flow of ideas by word and image”, has recently taken first steps to adopt a comprehensive, coherent and action-oriented common UN Plan of Action to promote the safety of journalists and address the all too frequent impunity of such crimes.

On the 13 and 14 September UNESCO hosted the United Nation’s first Inter-Agency Meeting to begin the process of consultation to prepare the Plan. The meeting was called by the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, at the recommendation of the Intergovernmental Council of the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) and on the basis of a consultation with Member States.

Participants delivered clear and concrete proposals for the future, suggesting ways to strengthen existing UN mechanisms, increase co-operation with Member States and partner organizations, raise awareness throughout society and foster safety initiatives which focus on the prevention of attacks against journalists.

The final draft of the Plan of Action will be submitted to the IPDC Council for endorsement at its next session, which will take place from 21 to 23 March 2012.

At this meeting Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, will present the third Report on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity aimed to give an overview of the killings of journalists condemned by her, as well as provide information on the responses received by UNESCO on the status of the judicial inquiries conducted on each of the killings.

Last report, published in 2010, expressed that “in most cases, impunity precludes the way of justice, and if this trend prevails, journalists will remain easy targets”. Needless to say this represents a severe threat to freedom of expression and to our ability to seek the truth.

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