Overview of key U.N. documents and resolutions directly relating to impunity in journalist murders:
- Resolution 1738 (2006), adopted by the Security Council in December 2006, urges the protection of journalists covering armed conflict and emphasizes the need for states to end impunity in criminal acts against journalists. It asks the U.N. secretary-general to include the issue of the safety and security of journalists, media professionals, and associated personnel when reporting on protection of civilians in armed conflict.
- The United Nations Human Rights Committee, a body of legal experts, published General comment 34 on Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, noting that all attacks against those who practice freedom of expression should be “vigorously investigated in a timely fashion, and the perpetrators prosecuted,” among other points.
- The U.N. Plan of Action for the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, drafted by UNESCO, was adopted by the U.N. Chief Executives Board in April 2012. The plan’s measures include establishing a coordinated inter-agency mechanism to handle issues related to the safety of journalists, as well as assisting countries to develop legislation and mechanisms favorable to freedom of expression and information, and supporting their efforts to implement existing international rules and principles. Its implementation began in early 2013.
- In June 2012, U.N. special rapporteurs on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions and promotion and protection of the right to freedom of expression presented reports at the 20th session of the U.N. Human Rights Council, which highlighted impunity in targeted attacks against journalists as a major blight on human rights and called on states to implement mechanisms to protect journalists and promote justice.
- The U.N. Human Rights Council passed Resolution 21/12 on the safety of journalists at its 21st session in September 2012. The resolution expresses concern that “attacks against journalists often occur with impunity, and calls upon States to ensure accountability through the conduct of impartial, speedy and effective investigations into such acts falling within their jurisdiction, and to bring to justice those responsible and to ensure that victims have access to appropriate remedies.” The resolution also asked the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to compile a report on good practices for protecting journalists and addressing impunity. The report was presented at the 24th session of the Human Rights Council in July 2013.
- The U.N. General Assembly adopted Resolution 68/163 on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. The resolution proclaims November 2 as the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists. It calls on states to dedicate the resources necessary to investigate and prosecute attacks against journalists and for the U.N. Secretary-General to report on the implementation of the resolution and the U.N. Plan of Action to the General Assembly.
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