International Day to End Impunity

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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.

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.

Will UN plan address impunity, security for journalists?

A woman stands next to a banner reading "No more impunity" in Colombia. (AFP/Raul Arboleda)

Here are the facts:

  • A journalist is killed in the line of duty somewhere around the world once every eight days.
  • Nearly three out of four are targeted for murder. The rest are killed in the crossfire of combat, or on dangerous assignments such as street protests.
  • Local journalists constitute the large majority of victims in all groups.
  • The murderers go unpunished in about nine out of 10 cases.
  • The overall number of journalists killed, and the number of journalists murdered, have each climbed since the 1990s.

Approximately 30 journalists are targeted and murdered every year, and on average, in only three of these crimes are the killers ever brought to justice. Other attacks on freedom of expression occur daily: bloggers are threatened, photographers beaten, writers kidnapped. And in those instances, justice is even more rare. Today, the Committee to Protect Journalists joins freedom of expression advocates worldwide in a 23-day campaign to dismantle one case at a time a culture of impunity that allows perpetrators to gag journalists, bloggers, photographers and writers, while keeping the rest of us uninformed.

Blog | CPJ, USA


Press freedom groups worldwide are banding together today, the International Day to End Impunity, to demand justice for hundreds of journalists murdered for their work. On this day, the Committee to Protect Journalists and dozens of other members of the International Freedom of Information Exchange are remembering journalists killed, and urging governments to take action against those responsible for their deaths. We are also looking for lessons learned in past fights--like the one led by a group of journalists from the San Francisco Bay area, who battled tirelessly to ensure that justice was served in the slaying of their colleague Chauncey Bailey.

Umar Cheema, left, of Pakistan and Javier Valdez Cárdenas of Mexico, both 2011 International Press Freedom Award winners, are all too familiar with the culture of impunity. (CPJ)

Last night, hundreds of journalists and members of New York's press freedom community met at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in Manhattan for the Committee to Protect Journalists' XXI annual International Press Freedom Awards. At the event--celebrating the extraordinary courage of five journalists from across the globe--guests and award recipients unanimously expressed their commitment to fighting impunity in the murders of journalists.

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