UN Calls For Those Responsible For Journalist Deaths To Be Held Accountable

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International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists

In the past twelve years (2006-2017) close to 1,010 journalists have been killed for reporting the news and bringing information to the public. On average, this constitutes one death every four days. In nine out of ten cases the killers go unpunished. Impunity leads to more killings and is often a symptom of worsening conflict and the breakdown of law and judicial systems.

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UNESCO is concerned that impunity damages whole societies by covering up serious human rights abuses, corruption, and crime. Governments, civil society, the media, and everyone concerned to uphold the rule of law are being asked to join in the global efforts to end impunity.

It is in recognition of the far-reaching consequences of impunity, especially of crimes against journalists, that the United Nations General Assembly adopted a Resolution at its 68th session in 2013 which proclaimed 2 November as the ‘International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists’ (IDEI). 

The Resolution urged Member States to implement definite measures countering the present culture of impunity. The date was chosen in commemoration of the assassination of two French journalists in Mali on 2 November 2013.

The following is the message of Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO on the occasion of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, November 2, 2019:

“The statistics are sobering: in the last 10 years, at least 881 journalists have been killed around the world for simply telling the truth. Forty-four have died so far in 2019 alone. In almost nine  out of 10  cases, these crimes have gone unpunished.

UNESCO seeks  to  prevent  these  tragedies  by  promoting  a  safe  environment  for journalists and media workers, notably through the United Nations Plan of Action on the  Safety  of  Journalists  and  the  Issue  of  Impunity.  However,  when  the  worst happens,  UNESCO  calls  for those  responsible  for  journalist  deaths  to  be  held accountable.  It  fights  impunity  in  the  field,  by  training  judges  and  members  of  the judiciary,  cooperating  with  human  rights  courts  and  working  with  governments  to create national prosecution mechanisms. 

 

These actions are also supported by a new Global Media Defense Fund, which was created at the initiative of the United Kingdom and Canada and is administered by UNESCO.  This  Fund  complements  work  already  undertaken  by  UNESCO  to  fight impunity  around  the world,  including  through  the  Multi-Donor  Programme  on  Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists and the International Programme for the Development of Communication. It will do this in particular by fostering legal cooperation  and  supporting  the  continuation  of  work  by  journalists  who  have  been killed. 

On  2  November,  this  year’s International  Day  to  End  Impunity  for  Crimes  against Journalists is focused on local journalists. Through the campaign #KeepTruthAlive

 

It  challenges  the  perception  that  murders  only  happen  far  from  the  public  eye, primarily  targeting  foreign  war  correspondents.  It  shines  the  spotlight  on  local  journalists   working   on   corruption   and   politics   in  non-conflict   situations,  who  represented 93% of journalist deaths in the past decade. 

UNESCO  holds  to  account  all  those  who  put  journalists  at  risk, all those  who  kill journalists, and all those who do nothing to stop this violence. The end of a journalist’s life should never be the end of the quest for truth.