World Trends in Freedom of Expression report launched to mark International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists

27 October 2015

UNESCO released a report on World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development, with a special focus on digital communication and safety at events in Paris, London and New York on the occasion of International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, celebrated on 2 November since 2014.

The report* takes stock of the voluntary response rate of Member States to the request by the Director-General of UNESCO for information about actions taken to prevent the impunity of those responsible for the killing of journalists and media workers.

In 2014, 13 out of 59 countries in which journalists had been killed responded to the formal request for information on action taken. That number rose to 24 out of 57 countries as of August 2015, demonstrating the possible start of an upward trend.

At the same time, the responses received indicated the continuation of very high impunity rates. Analysis of the responses from States where journalists have been killed, shows that fewer than one in ten cases since 2006 had led to a conviction by the end of 2014.

The World Trends report also focuses on the safety of journalists, protecting journalists’ sources in the digital age, the role of internet intermediaries in fostering freedom online, and countering hate speech.

It brings together contributions from a large number of leading researchers in different parts of the worlds and is “a reference for governments, civil society, the private sector, academics as well as students, at a time when freedom of expression is more important than ever,” in the words of UNESCO’s Director-General, Irina Bokova.

Ms Bokova has issued a message for International Day to End Impunity. She has, moreover, described the problem saying that: “Impunity is poisonous—it leads to self-censorship for fear of reprisal, depriving society of ever more sources of significant information.”

Ms Bokova launched the report at the Organization Headquarters (2 November, 3 p.m.) in the presence of Sweden’s Minister for Culture and Democracy, Alice Bah Kuhnke, and Bathsheba N. Crocker, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Organization Affairs, United States of America.

As part of the Paris event, CNN journalist and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Freedom of Expression and Journalist Safety, Christiane Amanpour moderated a panel discussion on impunity. It  brought together Janine Di Giovanni, Newsweek’s Middle East Editor; Chelsia Chan of the Working group on Law and Regulation at the Press Council of Indonesia; Frank La Rue, Executive Director of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Centre, Europe; and Marie-Solange Poinsot, mother of Ghislaine Dupont, the French journalist who was killed in Mali on 2 November 2013.

Getachew Engida, Deputy Director-General of UNESCO, presented the World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development: Special Digital Focus 2015 report in Westminster, London. The event is sponsored by UK Member of Parliament Paul Farrelly and co-organized with the University of Sheffield’s Centre for the Freedom of the Media (CFOM), PEN International, and Article 19 (more information).

The International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists will also be celebrated at the UN in New York, with a panel discussion co-organized with Greece and Lithuania (more information)

UNESCO is also organizing other events to mark 2 November in Amsterdam, Tunis, Dar Es Salam, Abuja, Accra, Monrovia, Juba, Islamabad, and Katmandu amongst other cities (see UNESCO’s webpage on the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, where editors and journalists will also find a press kit).
 

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Media accreditation for the Paris event: Djibril Kebe, d.kebe(at)unesco.org

Media accreditation for the London event: Mehdi Benchelah: m.benchelah(at)unesco.org

Media accreditation for the New York event: Ricardo de Guimaraes Pinto: r.de-guimaraes(at)unesco.org

*The report will be available online on 30 October at:
http://www.unesco.org/new/en/world-media-trends-2015 (English)