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IFJ campaign to fight impunity for crimes against journalists


31 October 2017

The International Federation of Journalist’s (IFJ) 2017 campaign to end impunity kicks off on 2 November - the UN day against impunity for crimes targeting journalists.

This year's campaign, to last until 23 November - the eighth commemoration of the Maguindanao massacre which claimed 32 journalists’ lives - calls for the strengthening of the international legal framework as well as national protections to ensure greater media safety.

The campaign this year focuses on seven countries: Mexico, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, and Ukraine.

The UN day of action was agreed by the UN general assembly in 2013 and has helped to put the issue of media protection on the international agenda. Despite the annual date, the IFJ has expressed concern that there have been no concrete measures to investigate incidents of violence against journalists in many countries around the world.

Philippe Leruth, IFJ president, said:

"The levels of violence in journalism around the world make a mockery of the high-minded intentions behind initiatives such as the UN day to end impunity.

"As long as they are not acted upon by holding accountable those who commit these crimes, there will remain an open season on journalists and media professionals."

According to IFJ statistics, 56 journalists have lost their lives while carrying out their duties since the start of 2017.

Only one out of 10 killings of journalists is investigated.

The situation for non-fatal attacks on the media is even worse.

Governments fail in their duty to hunt down the harassers, the attackers, and the killers of media workers.

Impunity not only endangers journalists, it imperils democracy and compromises the hope for peace and justice.

Leruth added: 

"Legal guarantees exist for the protection of journalists as civilians which states are duty bound to enforce under domestic and international law."

To this end, the IFJ has made a number of propositions at a consultation meeting on the safety of journalists convened by UNESCO and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on 29 June in Geneva. They include steps to strengthen the international legal framework related to journalist safety they account for the professional risks that journalists and media workers take, and the unique value of journalism in strengthening the rule of law.

The IFJ has been supporting outreach programmes to engage other stakeholders, such as law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and judges about the role of journalists and their how different people can contribute to promoting journalism for the good of society as a whole.

The IFJ are also campaigning for protection mechanisms which have the confidence of journalists and their organisations to provide safety to those whose lives are at risk because of their professional activities. This is at the heart of the IFJ campaign on Mexico, where the IFJ is engaging with European Union institutions to secure their support.

Anthony Bellanger, IFJ general secretary, said: 

"We believe that the European Union has a part to play in putting pressure on to respect basic human rights, including press freedom. That is why we are urging the EU to work with our affiliate, the SNRP and civil society to ensure Mexico’s protection mechanism for journalists is fit for purpose." 

Find out more about the IFJ campaign against impunity.

Tags: , ifj, impunity, mexico, pakistan, afghanistan, iraq, yemen, somalia, ukraine, journalist safety, journalists killed