NUJ push to end impunity for crimes against journalists
1 November 2019
On the eve of the international day to end impunity for crimes against journalists, on Saturday 2 November 2019, the NUJ has contacted Ambassadors and other country representatives in the UK to ask for a meeting to discuss crimes against journalists and impunity.
The union has picked a series of countries to focus on this year as part of the global campaign – the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malta, Yemen, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Mexico, Palestine/Israel, Peru, Philippines and Ukraine.
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:
"Most countries around the world are failing to protect journalists. We are facing significant global challenges and civil unrest, and the impact on the media is tremendous. We need independent, quality journalism now more than ever, and that is why it is vital to end impunity. Without safety and protection in place for journalists, without justice for all those who have been killed, we cannot have a free society or a free press. This annual day calling for an end to impunity is a unique opportunity to push for change, and a reminder that we must sustain our demand for justice for journalists who have been killed."
This week the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has launched a 3-week campaign to expose the staggering levels of impunity for crimes against journalists and the lack of international action to combat the rising tide of threats and abuse faced worldwide. The IFJ campaign starts tomorrow and will run until Saturday 23 November, the anniversary of the Ampatuan massacre in the Philippines, in which at least 32 media workers were killed.
Youness Mjahed, IFJ president, said:
"To speak about impunity for crimes against journalists is to speak about injustice, silence and institutional complicity with the killers. Today we call on all our affiliates across the world to join our global campaign to express their strong rejection of the level of impunity that leaves many victims' families powerless and many colleagues afraid of telling the truth. Fighting impunity for crimes against journalists is a necessity for all of us, beyond the media circle. There is no free press if those who order or commit killings remain comfortably safe forcing media to hide the truth and terrorising those who take risks to reveal it."
The IFJ has recorded 1,064 killings of media professionals in the past 10 years. Yet, only one murder in every ten is punished. According to UNESCO, 93 per cent of the victims are local journalists.
The IFJ campaign will focus on Palestine, Peru, Philippines, Somalia and Ukraine where the level of impunity for abusing, jailing, attacking and killing journalists has been high, taking into account the levels of violence against journalists in the respective countries and the systematic failure of the authorities to fight impunity.
In Palestine media professionals are targeted by the Israeli authorities. In the last decade, 31 journalists have been killed, including 3 foreign media workers, according to the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS). Among them, 28 were killed by the Israeli forces, 2 by gunmen in Gaza and 1 by Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade. None of the killers have been punished.
The National Association of Journalists of Peru (ANP) has recorded a total of 64 journalists murdered since 1980, 61 of those cases remained unresolved. The impunity rate for crimes against journalists in the country is 98 per cent. Although there have been trials in which the killers have sometimes been judged, most of them were hired killers and the masterminds of the crimes have not been identified and punished.
In the Philippines, the National Union of Journalists (NUJP) has recorded 186 killings since 1986, only 17 of which have been resolved. While the killing of 32 journalists in Maguidanao is seen as the largest mass killing of media workers and an emblematic case of impunity, the Duterte administration's attitude towards the press and its constant harassment and abuse of media professionals confirms that media harassers often escape justice.
In Somalia, 55 journalists have been killed since 2010, including 8 foreign media workers, while only 4 of the killers have been punished. The Islamist terrorist group Al-Shabab are held responsible for many of the attacks, assassinations and kidnappings of media workers. The climate of fear that surrounds media professionals has a chilling effect on freedom of expression and the broader struggle to expose human rights abuses across Somalia, according to the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ).
Ukraine is also a dangerous country for journalists, especially in the city and region of Kyiv. Sixteen journalists have been killed since 1995 including 7 foreign media workers. Media ownership is in the hands of oligarchs making journalists’ work complicated and hard. The National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU) highlights cases of harassment of journalists during the 2013-14 euromaiden protestshas have never been addressed. During the last presidential election, journalists were attacked, threatened and faced unwarranted surveillance. No one has ever been punished for the killing of journalist Georgiy Gongadze whose body was found in November 2000. He was decapitated and covered in acid.
Access information about the IFJ campaign and toolkit.