First ever Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists held on 2 November

Over the past decade 700 journalists have been killed because of their reporting activities. The majority of these deaths were deliberate murders committed in connection with journalists’ denunciation of crime and corruption. Ninety percent of these cases are not investigated, either because of insufficient resources or a lack of political will.

Over the past decade 700 journalists have been killed because of their reporting activities. The majority of these deaths were deliberate murders committed in connection with journalists’ denunciation of crime and corruption. Ninety percent of these cases are not investigated, either because of insufficient resources or a lack of political will.

            Inadequate response by the judiciary means that many of those who commission and commit crimes against journalists are free to strike again whenever they think that journalists and social media contributors threaten their interests.

            On Sunday 2 November, UNESCO with its UN and civil society partners will mark the first Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists to draw the world’s attention to this alarming situation which is limiting journalists’ ability to do their work and undermining the public’s right to be kept informed. The date was proclaimed in a resolution on the safety of journalists adopted by the United Nations’ General Assembly last year, with UNESCO designated to lead its implementation. 

            For the occasion, several conferences, seminars and high level panel debates will be held next Monday and Tuesday (3 and 4 November, see calendar of events). In cooperation with its Member States—notably Argentina, Austria, Costa Rica, France, Greece, and Tunisia—UNESCO will host a panel discussion at the United Nations in New York. In Strasburg, UNESCO will co-organize two events with the Council of Europe, the European Court of Human Rights, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the European Lawyers’ Union, the UK-based Centre for Freedom of the Media (CFOM) and the University of Sheffield (UK). National events are taking place in Tunisia, Nigeria, and Ghana.

            Later in the month, detailed information about investigations into the killing of journalists will be presented by Director-General Irina Bokova when she introduces the 4thReport on the Safety of Journalists and the Danger of Impunity to UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Council of the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC, Paris, 20 – 21 November).

            Freedom of expression and press freedom have been at the heart of UNESCO’s mandate since its creation. Its Constitution requires the Organization to “to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image”. The Director-General issues statements about each killing of media workers brought to her attention, in a bid to raise awareness about the problem and encourage States to punish those responsible for these murders –this isin line with Resolution 29 adopted by UNESCO Member States at the Organization’s General Conference of 1997, entitled “Condemnation of Violence against Journalists.”

The Organization has also championed press freedom within the United Nations system, leading to the adoption of a UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. A report on the implementation of the Plan of Action, will be the subject of an inter-agency meeting in Geneva (see calendar of event above).

            Ahead of the first Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, UNESCO and the online platform, Visual.ly, launched an infographics competition, which generated creative and powerful illustrations of the issue of impunity. Infographics in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish are available for reproduction by media free of charge, provided they cite the graphic designer’s name & UNESCO in print publications, and tag @UNESCO on social media platforms.

 

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See also: http://en.unesco.org/themes/fostering-freedom-expression

Media Contact: Roni Amelan, UNESCO Press Service, +33 (0)1 45 68 16 50, r.amelan@unesco.org