International Conference on Impunity for Crimes against Journalists in Costa Rica

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© Doha Centre for Media Freedom

UNESCO and the Inter-American Human Rights System will host a conference to examine issues and solutions relating to the impunity enjoyed by the overwhelming majority of those responsible for crimes against journalists, be they professional media workers, bloggers or social media journalists.

The San José conference, 9 and 10 October, is one of the key events that will pave the way for the celebration of 2 November, International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.

The event, will bring together members of the judicial and legal communities, as well as representatives of media and press freedom organizations. Together, they will examine issues relating to impunity and how crimes against journalists are handled in different parts of the world.

Notable participants will include Rose-Marie Belle-Antoine, President of the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, Alejandro Solano Ortiz, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Costa Rica, Humberto Sierra Porto, President of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (Costa Rica), Edison Lanza, Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression of the Organization of American States, and Baltasar Garzón, President of the International Centre for Human Rights Promotion (Buenos Aires).

Both the conference and the UN General Decision to proclaim an International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, reflect the increased awareness of the fact that impunity fuels the cycle of violent crimes against the exercise of free speech and adversely affects the ability of people and societies to enjoy rule of law and good governance.

As the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, says in the message she issued for the International Day to End Impunity, “Impunity is poisonous – it leads to self-censorship for fear of reprisal, depriving society of even more sources of significant information.”

Seven-hundred journalists are known to have been killed around the world over the past decade for carrying out their professional duties: more than one death every week. Yet, the culprits of fewer than one in ten cases have been sentenced for their crime, emboldening criminals to continue shooting the messengers of news they do not wish the public to hear.

For this reason, the Director-General of UNESCO urges States “to take all the necessary measures – through legislation, protection mechanisms, and new adequate resources – to ensure that investigations and trials relating to crimes against journalists are undertaken.”

The conference in San José, Costa Rica, is the first of a series of events that will take place around the world to mark this year’s International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists (see list of events on the page dedicated to the Day).

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Media wishing to cover the conference should request accreditation from:

Karen Llach, k.llach@unesco.org +506 20103828