Marking the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon honoured journalists and media workers who were killed in the line of duty for merely ‘reporting the truth’ and is underscoring the importance of protecting their rights and ensuring they can report freely.
“More than 700 journalists have been killed in the last decade – one every five days – simply for bringing news and information to the public. Many perish in the conflicts they cover so fearlessly. But all too many have been deliberately silenced for trying to report the truth,” said Mr. Ban in a message on the second World Day.
Noting that only 7% of cases involving crimes against journalists are resolved and less that one crime out of 10 is ever fully investigated, he stressed that such impunity deepens fear among journalists and enables Governments to get away with censorship.
“We must do more to combat this trend and make sure that journalists can report freely. Journalists should not have to engage in self-censorship because they fear for their life,” said the UN chief.
Mr. Ban urged collective action to end the cycle of impunity and safeguard the right of journalists to speak truth to power.
Echoing the sentiment, the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Unesco said that she has consistently and publicly condemned each killing of a journalist and called for a thorough investigation.
“In the past six years, I have publicly and unequivocally condemned more than 540 cases of killings of journalists, media workers and social media producers who generate significant amounts of journalism,” UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said in a statement.
Ms. Bokova stressed that each time the perpetrator of a crime is allowed to escape punishment, it emboldens other criminals and creates a vicious cycle of violence. Further, she warned that as attacks on journalists are on the rise, UNESCO has spearheaded the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the issue of Impunity, which is working to end impunity by promoting concerted action among United Nations agencies, working across the world with governments, civil society, academia and the media itself.
“This work is bearing fruit,” she said. “The United Nations General Assembly, the Human Rights Council, as well as the United Nations Security Council have all adopted landmark resolutions specifically addressing these obstacles – as has the Council of Europe at the regional level,” added Ms. Bokova.
However, Ms. Bokova stressed that efforts must be redoubled to ensure the end of impunity for attacks on journalists, especially since societies are undergoing transformation at present.
The International Day, was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly to highlight the urgent need to protect journalists, and to commemorate the assassination of two French journalists in Mali on 2 November 2013.