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Nov 2, 2023

International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists 

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FA News Desk

On International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, UNESCO is publishing new data highlighting a worrying rise in violence against journalists during election periods.

The International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists is a UN-recognized international day observed annually on 2 November.

Between January 2019 and June 2022, UNESCO documented 759 individual attacks against journalists, including 5 killings, during 89 elections in 70 countries.

The data also shows that a majority of the attacks have been committed by security forces. 42% of journalists were attacked by law enforcement agents. Attacks included beating and arbitrary arrests. Read more.

In 2024, 2.6. billion people will go to the polls. Journalists will play a critical role in ensuring the public have access to accurate information as they prepare to cast their votes.

The data was collected as part of a new UNESCO issue brief. The Role of Law Enforcement Agents: Ensuring the Safety of Journalists during public demonstrations and Elections, which sets out the ways in which journalists are impeded from reporting freely, and makes recommendations on how governments can address the problem.

This year, the main commemoration of International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists will take place on 2 -3 November 2023 at the headquarters of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington D.C., USA.

Organized by UNESCO, in partnership with the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), the InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and its Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression (RELE), the conference will constitute the occasion to focus on the interconnections between violence against journalists, the integrity of elections, and the role of public leadership.

It is to note that more than 350 journalists have been killed since the UN General Assembly established the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists in December 2014, according to data from the Committee to Protect Journalists. 

Meanwhile, the US reaffirms to ending impunity for crimes against journalists and call on the global community to unite in holding accountable those who direct and perpetrate violence, harassment, and intimidation against media workers. 

The United States is committed to continued partnership with the Media Freedom Coalition and our partners in the global human rights community to promote accountability for those who carry out violence against journalists simply for doing their jobs.

Corruption and abuse of power thrive where the free and independent press is suppressed. Violence, spurious detentions, harassment, and acts of intimidation against media workers carry a tangible harm to both the individual and to society at large.

Combatting impunity for violence against journalists is a key line of effort under the Department’s Journalism Protection Platform, announced at the first Summit for Democracy. 

US calls on governments globally to bring to justice those responsible for crimes against journalists, so that they may continue their important work shining the light of truth free from fear of violence or harassment.

Global Call

In another report, more than 70 journalists’ associations and unions from all over the world today call for the Israeli government to take explicit steps to protect the lives of journalists covering the war in Gaza, in accordance with international law.

Since the war started the number of fatalities among media workers has exceeded one a day – a rate that is without precedent.

The IFJ’s call, which has signatories from every continent, is that the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) rigorously observe international law that requires combatants to take all reasonable steps to treat journalists as civilians and to safeguard their lives.

IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger said: “The number of media workers who have lost their lives in three weeks of conflict is unprecedented. This rate of attrition among media workers has deeply shocked journalists the world over. No one can watch the growing tally of fallen colleagues without mounting horror.

We demand an explicit commitment from the Israelis that their armed forces will take every effort to ensure that the grim tally of journalists who have died in this conflict rises no further. This is simply unacceptable, and the Isreali government will have to accept its responsibilities”.