Today the fight against impunity has reached an important juncture. There is awareness on domestic and global levels of the extreme peril posed to journalists and the public’s right to information when violence against the press is met with official inaction. The cries for justice by freedom of expression advocates have been amplified by the U.N.’s endorsement and its designation of the first International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.
In November 2013, the United Nations General Assembly put the issue of impunity squarely on the global agenda.
The Resolution on Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, adopted by consensus, describes the absence of justice for victims as “one of the main challenges to strengthening the protection of journalists.” It calls on states to “ensure accountability through the conduct of impartial, speedy, and effective investigations into all alleged violence against journalists and media workers falling within their jurisdiction.” Governments are further charged to “bring the perpetrators of such crimes to justice and to ensure that victims have access to appropriate remedies.” The resolution proclaims November 2 as the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.
By Myroslava Gongadze
It is a sad truth of today’s world that the life of a journalist is often a dangerous one. We in the media hear daily reports of crimes against journalists, from intimidation to murder, and it is even harder when these are committed against our friends, family, and colleagues. A culture of impunity often obstructs our search for justice for these crimes and allows those responsible, whether they are state authorities or powerful elites, to block the people’s quest for the truth in the bloodiest of ways.
For all the people who have been working on the problem of impunity for so long, the announcement on November 26 that the Third Committee of the United Nation's General Assembly had passed a resolution on the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity, setting November 2 as the "International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists," was welcome news.
In December 2012, the Committee to Protect Journalists and 27 partner organizations launched Speak Justice: Voices against Impunity as part of an international effort to seek justice for the hundreds of journalists who have been murdered around the world. Today, on International Day to End Impunity, we are taking a look back at what has happened over the last 12 months.
New York, November 18, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to join the many voices around the world demanding justice for murdered journalists and remembering the fallen on November 23, International Day to End Impunity. As Russia finalizes preparations for hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics and looks to its upcoming tenure on the U.N. Human Rights Council, this is the ideal time for Moscow to affirm its commitment to tackling impunity, CPJ said. Read the full letter.
New York, November 18, 2013--As one of the focus countries for implementation of the U.N. Plan of Action for the Safety of Journalists and Issue of Impunity, a strong statement on November 23, the International Day to End Impunity, would affirm that the Pakistani government has political will to investigate and punish the murderers of journalists, the Committee to Protect Journalists stated in a letter to Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, prime minister of Pakistan.
New York, November 18, 2013--Brazil should make a strong statement committing to reverse the country's long history of impunity in journalist murders on November 23, the International Day to End Impunity, the Committee to Protect Journalists stated in a letter to Dilma Vana Rousseff, president of the Federal Republic of Brazil.
Three years ago, on November 23, 2009, 30 journalists and two media workers were brutally killed in the southern Philippine city of Maguindanao while travelling in a convoy with the family and supporters of a local politician. To this day, not a single suspect has been convicted, though local authorities have identified close to 200. The botched trial has been stalled with procedural hurdles. Victims' families have been threatened and key witnesses have been slain.
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