UN Secretary-General Calls on Governments to Condemn Violence against Journalists

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The United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon has expressed deep concern about the upward trend in the number of journalists killed in recent years and called on States to systematically condemn all harassment, intimidation and violence against journalists and media workers. This was contained in his report presented at the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). This is a report on the implementation of 68/163 on the safety of journalists and issue of impunity and is in accordance with the stipulated terms in the resolution which is to provide an overview of recent trends with regard to the safety of journalists and media workers as well as of initiatives undertaken to ensure their protection.

The report notes that there is an upward trend in the number of journalist killed with nearly 30% of the 430 killings recorded from 2007 to 2012 to have occurred in 2012 alone. Politically motivated killing is endemic, noted the report with print journalist leading the number of causalities with 176, television journalists at 100 and radio journalist at 87.

The Secretary-General’s report explained that impunity remains the dominant trend with respect to investigation and bringing perpetrators to justice of these crimes and strongly encourage States to leverage on the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalist on November 2 to raise awareness on issues of journalist safety and launch initiatives to combat impunity for attacks against journalists and media workers.  He noted that impunity for attacks against journalist is the biggest obstacle towards ensuring the safety of journalists and called on States to investigate such attacks and bring perpetrators to justice and also provide effective remedies to victims. He recommended that States must take all possible measures to close the gap that exists between international standards for the protection of journalists, as reflected in international human rights and international humanitarian law, and the actual implementation of those standards domestically.

The report explains that States should create an enabling environment where rule of law, democracy and human rights are upheld and media workers can fulfill their role effectively and without undue interference. He called on States to ensure that right to free expression and safety of journalist are incorporated in the post-2015 development agenda and recommended that States should continue to replicate and reinforce good practices which promote media safety and with support of UN field presences.

The UN human rights system, peace keeping and special political missions are encouraged to continue to pay particular attention to safety and protection of journalists and media workers and States are called upon to support specific mechanisms created by regional organisations for the protection and safety of journalists.

The UNGA adopted the Resolution on Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity at its 68th Session on December 18, 2013. This landmark Resolution “condemns unequivocally all attacks and violence against journalists and media workers, such as torture, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and arbitrary detention, as well as intimidation and harassment in both conflict and non-conflict situations”.

The Resolution also proclaimed November 2 as the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists. The Resolution called on the UN Secretary -General to report at its 69th session in 2014 on the progress being made by the UN system in regard to implementing the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.

This report is pursuant to that request. Kindly click here to view the full report