Zimbabwean media stakeholders, government officials and the UN jointly commemorated for the first time in the country, the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists (IDEI) on 1st November 2019 in Harare under the theme, “Journalists Security: For Free, Open and Informed Societies”.
The commemoration opened up dialogue between media stakeholders, the government and the United Nations on the need to guarantee safety of journalists and address issues on impunity for crimes against journalists. In a speech read on her behalf, Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Honourable Monica Mutsvangwa said the government was committed creating an environment where journalists operate freely.
“The Second Republic is focused on opening up democratic space and allowing journalists to do their work without impediments so as to give citizens adequate information to make informed decisions,” she said.
“As a ministry, our role is to inform the nation and that information role is carried out through your work as journalists. So, it is in our interest, that of the nation and the Second Republic to ensure that journalists are enabled to carry out their duty,” added Minister Mutsvangwa.
Speaking at the same occasion, United Nations Resident Coordinator, Ms. Maria Ribeiro bemoaned increased cases of crimes against journalists that go unpunished saying impunity breeds more violations.
She said globally, nine out of ten cases of crimes against journalists go unpunished and as a result, criminals are emboldened.
“By ending impunity, we deepen freedom of expression and bolster dialogue. We advance human rights and strengthen societies”, emphasised Ms. Ribeiro.
UNESCO Regional Director for Southern Africa, Prof. Hubert Gijzen called on all stakeholders to advance cooperation to work towards ending crimes against journalists.
“I call upon all stakeholders to advance cooperation to prevent violence against journalists, protect them in their work and establish systematic prosecution mechanisms. Impunity damages whole societies by covering up serious human rights abuses, corruption, and crime,” he said.
He also urged journalists, media professionals and workers to strive for excellence in journalism adding that the current upsurge in misinformation and disinformation erodes the reputation of journalism.
Stakeholders present at event drafted a Resolution on the safety of journalists that envisages a free, safe and open environment for journalists to do their work.
Various stakeholders including the Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations (ZACRAS), Media Monitors, Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (MAZ), TechMag TV, International Media Support (IMS), African Freedom of Expression Exchange (AFEX), Media Institute of Southern Africa Zimbabwe (MISA), Government Officials, UN representatives and other key partners converged for the commemoration at the UNESCO Offices in Harare.
The ‘International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists’ is globally commemorated on 2nd November every year to urge Member States to do their utmost to prevent violence against journalists and media workers, to ensure accountability, bring to justice perpetrators of crimes against journalists and media workers, and ensure that victims have access to appropriate remedies. It further calls upon States to promote a safe and enabling environment for journalists to perform their work independently and without undue interference.