Governments and the international community must take action to protect the people who bring us the news, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Wednesday on the occasion of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.
Despite his critical role, he noted in his message for the Day that more than 70 journalists have been killed this year alone.
“Most of these crimes remain unsolved,” the UN chief said, adding that a record number of journalists were jailed today, with threats of imprisonment, violence, and death on the rise.
“On this International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, let us honor our media workers and stand up for truth, justice, and human rights for all.”
This year also marks the 10th anniversary of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.
The Secretary-General underlined the importance of a free press, which he said is vital for a functioning democracy, exposing wrongdoing, navigating our complex world, and advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the blueprint for a fairer, more equitable, and greener future.
He also said a rise in misinformation, online harassment, and hate speech, particularly against women journalists, was contributing to stifling media workers around the world.
“Intimidation through the abuse of legal, financial, and other means is undermining efforts to hold the powerful accountable. These trends threaten not only journalists but society at large,” he added.
Eighteen have been killed so far this year, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which maintains an online database of judicial investigations into journalist murders around the world.
A decade ago, countries backed the UN action plan that aims to protect journalists, prevent crimes against them and prosecute their perpetrators.
Much progress has been made since the adoption of the plan, he reported, with concrete measures implemented at the national, regional, and global levels.
UNESCO said it has also played a role, including through training nearly 36,000 judicial, police and security officials on issues such as freedom of expression and the safety of journalists, including online.
However, “journalists continue to be killed at an alarming rate,” Azoulay said. UNESCO data reveals that 955 journalists have lost their lives in the last decade, and 2022 has been the deadliest year since 2018.
Azoulay called for a renewed commitment to protect journalists everywhere and at all times.
“This means in conflict and crises, of course, and UNESCO is supporting journalists in Ukraine and Afghanistan, for example. It also means in peacetime, because that’s when most journalists have been killed in recent years,” he said.
The UNESCO chief also called for intensified efforts online, where new forms of violence have emerged, especially targeting women, with three out of four women journalists experiencing harassment online.
Source: Associated Press of Pakistan
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