» A call for justice for killed journalists ahead of International Day to End Impunity, 2 November
02.11.2016 - UNESCOPRESS

A call for justice for killed journalists ahead of International Day to End Impunity, 2 November

While the vast majority of murderous attacks on media workers remain unpunished, UNESCO welcomes an increase in the number of Member States showing stronger will to monitor and report on these crimes.

This encouraging sign comes as UNESCO and its partners prepare to mark the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists on 2 November. It emerges from the Report by the Director-General of UNESCO on the Safety of Journalists and the Danger of Impunity, which will be presented to UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Council of the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) on 17 November. 

The report has been published every two years since 2008 on the mandate of the IPDC.

At the same time, the Report notes that fewer than one in ten cases of killed journalists is resolved by the judiciary, according to the information received from those Member States that have responded to the Director-General’s requests for data about judicial follow up.

At the same time, the Report notes that fewer than one in ten cases of killed journalists is resolved by the judiciary, according to the information received from those Member States that have responded to the Director-General’s requests for data about judicial follow up.

In this year’s Report, 40 out of 62 countries where journalists have been killed in connection with their work have responded to the Director-General’s request. In 2014, date of the previous report, only 16 out of the 59 countries concerned had provided information.

Since 2006, the Director-General has cumulatively received information from 59 Member States on 402 killings out of the 827 in the last decade. However, only 63 of these 402 cases have been reported as resolved, representing 16% of the cases for which information was received and only 8% of all killings registered by UNESCO.

Since 92% of the incidents where violence was used to muzzle free expression and deprive the public of its right to receive information went unpunished, criminals are emboldened to feel that they can get away with murder, literally.

UNESCO has been calling on Member States to spare no effort in prosecuting those responsible for the killing of media workers for many years. Continued improvement in countries’ reporting on judicial actions taken against those involved in the murder of journalists, as observed in 2015, shows increased responsiveness to the attention by UNESCO and the UN as a whole to the issue.

Meanwhile, working as a journalist remains unacceptably dangerous in all too many regions, the Director General’s Report shows. In 2014-2015, 213 journalists met with a violent death. One-hundred-fifteen journalists were killed in 2015 alone, making it the second deadliest year over the last decade, after 2012 when UNESCO tallied 124 killings. Ninety-eight journalists were killed in 2014.

More than twenty-five events will take place worldwide to address the heavy toll journalists and media workers have paid and continue to face through the cycle of violence fostered by impunity.

In Bogotá, Colombia a special commemoration will be held on 2 November for the 30th anniversary of the killing of Guillermo Cano Isaza, founder and editor-in-chief of El Espectador. His legacy continues to this day via the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize, awarded annually on World Press Freedom Day (3 May). The Prize is awarded to support journalists who have championed press freedom, and has aided the release of a number of jailed laureates.

Also on the occasion of International Day to end Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, UNESCO is launching the awareness raising campaign My Killers Are Still Free to highlight the key findings of the Director-General’s Report. It also features testimonials of close relatives of journalists killed for their work in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and Latin America.

Events to raise awareness about impunity which affects governance, freedom of expression and freedom of information will be held in all regions on the occasion of the Day, which was marked for the first time in 2014 following the proclamation of 2 November as the International Day to End Impunity by the General Assembly of the United Nations. The date was chosen to commemorate the killing of French journalists, Claude Verlon and Ghislaine Dupont in Mali on 2 November 2013.

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Media contact: Roni Amelan, r.amelan(at)unesco.org +33(0)145681650




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