CPJ’s new digital campaign demands justice in journalist killings

New York, December 6, 2012–An average of 30 journalists are murdered each year in direct reprisal for their work, and the perpetrators are almost never brought to justice. To fight impunity in press killings, the Committee to Protect Journalists has launched Speak Justice: Voices Against Impunity, a new digital platform to help break the cycle of fear and censorship.

“In the past 20 years, more than 660 journalists have been assassinated for exposing abuses of power, crime, and human rights violations. Authorities routinely allow their killers to walk free,” said CPJ Impunity Campaign Coordinator María Salazar-Ferro. “The killers’ message is clear:  Journalists must be silent or die. But our collective voices counter that message by prompting action from authorities and ensuring that press murders are fully investigated and prosecuted.”

Threats and abductions escalate into killings, a fatal yet avoidable outcome cemented by weak or indifferent authorities who feed a cycle of impunity, CPJ research shows. This silencing message fosters self-censorship and weakens the ability of the press to hold governments to account.

CPJ’s new website, www.speakjusticenow.org, features interactive maps and an infographic video showing where journalists have been murdered around the world and the issues they had covered. The site includes profiles that capture the stories of killed journalists, which can be shared in solidarity. E-advocates can sign up to receive news and action alerts. Visitors to the site can also support the families of murdered journalists with funds to cover expenses, such as the legal fees and costs associated with their efforts to pursue justice.

“Reporting on politics, corruption, conflict, crime, and human rights has proven deadly for too many journalists who gave voice to underreported problems and exposed important truths,” said Salazar-Ferro. “Demanding justice for murdered journalists will serve to empower those who are still reporting to do so without fear. The silencing of journalists is an attack against an informed citizenry.” 

The campaign is powered by CPJ in collaboration with partner organizations as well as concerned individuals. Speak Justice is underwritten by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and supported by individual donations. Close to 30 partner organizations, leading advocates for free expression, anti-corruption and human rights have joined CPJ to make the campaign a success, including Access Info Europe, Article 19, Association of European Journalists, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and  Trauma, Center for Law and Democracy, English PEN, European Human Rights Advocacy Centre, Global Voices, Frontline Defenders, Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch, Ice & Fire, Impunity Watch, Index on Censorship, Inter-American Press Association, International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX), International Press Institute, International Women’s Media Foundation, Media Legal Defense Initiative, PEN International, Reach All Women in WAR, Sampsonia Way, Transparency International,  John S. and James L. Knight Fellowships at Stanford, World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, World Editors Forum and 100 Reporters.