Journalists’ deaths are going uninvestigated around the world. It’s time to act.
More than 35 journalists have been killed this year in the course of their duty, some were hit by bomb blasts, others were personally sought out and killed in cold blood, figures from the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) show.
Today (November 2) is the United Nations International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists and the NUJ has joined the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliates to demand that governments stop turning a blind eye to attacks on media workers and bring those who threaten journalists to justice.
On social media, journalists, especially women and those who represent ethnic or racial minorities or LGBT+, are subject to destructive campaigns in an attempt to muzzle them. Death threats, rape threats, doxxing, racist abuse, impersonation have led journalists to silence themselves, and many have been psychologically damaged.
Across the globe journalists are regularly attacked while reporting in the field, their equipment is destroyed, their families are threatened. Investigative journalists usually pay the highest price for uncovering money laundering and large-scale corruption.
In Kosovo, 19 out of the 20 Serbian and Albanians journalists' who disappeared in the aftermath of the Balkan war remain unresolved; 2021 has seen an escalation of attacks against media workers and the country has one of the highest rates of impunity in Europe.
Mexico remains one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists. Fifteen years after the country’s military joined the war on drugs, crimes against Mexican press workers and their disappearances are emblematic of the systemic violence which has flowed from it. The IFJ has already documented 7 killings in 2021 and the level of impunity in the country amounts to 95 per cent.
Somalia continues to be one of the most dangerous counties in Africa. State officials and a corrupt judiciary system have been a serious obstacle to press freedom, while journalists were killed in crossfire, bombings, terrorist attacks or targeted attacks. Since 2010, 58 journalists have been killed, with the deadliest year being 2012 with 18 killings. The level of impunity remains unacceptably high as only four killers have been punished to date. In 2021 alone, the IFJ has registered 20 serious cases of crimes against journalists, including the killing of a journalist in the Puntland region.
In Yemen 44 journalists were killed between 2011 and September 2021. According to the IFJ affiliate the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate, none of the perpetrators has been brought to justice. The absence of an independent judiciary and inadequate security conditions have made the death toll and the conditions to report even more difficult and arbitrary detentions, injuries and threats continue to occur on a daily basis.
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:
“Another year goes by, and another set of deadly statistics are collected by the IFJ – these deaths are not just a tragedy for the families affected, they are an indication of the many places in the world where brutal governments stifle democracy, kill journalists and where corruption and organised crime reign. The world’s leaders meeting in Glasgow today all have a role to play in calling out these evil regimes and speaking out for press freedom. The NUJ, IFJ and journalists’ trade unions will never cease from shining a light on these attacks on their members.”
Younes MJahed, IFJ president, said:
"It is time to put an end to judicial negligence, abusive legislation and governments' blindness. A society that leaves journalists' killers and harassers to walk free is not a democracy. In the name of our colleagues and friends who have been attacked, threatened or killed, of their loved ones who are powerless witnesses of the deliberate muzzling of journalists, in the name of media freedom and the public's right to know, we want justice now. And we want the truth."