UNESCO to Commemorate 2023 International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists in Washington DC

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Audrey Azoulay
Director-General of UNESCO

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) will celebrate the 2023 International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists (IDEI) on November 2 and 3, at the headquarters of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington D.C. in the United States under the theme:  “Violence against journalists, the integrity of elections,  and the role of public leadership”.

Organized in partnership with the Secretary General of the OAS, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and its Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, the event aims to strengthen the ties between organizations and actors involved in the promotion of freedom of expression and reinforce a coordinated response to the threats faced by journalists.

The event will bring together a diverse group of stakeholders, including former special rapporteurs, academia, civil society organizations, states, UN agencies, and any other individuals dedicated to improving journalist safety worldwide.

The day will also be used to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the OAS Special Rapporteurship and the 30th anniversary of the UN Special Procedure, two specialized offices that hold a pivotal role in promoting and safeguarding freedom of expression globally.

This important event will include multiple panels and discussions, bringing together a diverse group of stakeholders including former special rapporteurs, academia, civil society organizations, states, UN agencies, and any other individuals dedicated to improving journalist safety worldwide.

The day will furthermore to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the OAS Special Rapporteurship and the 30th anniversary of the UN Special Procedure, the two specialized offices, according to UNESCO, that hold a pivotal role in promoting and safeguarding freedom of expression globally.

IDEI 2023 seeks to raise awareness and sensitize public opinion and the international community on the main challenges faced by journalists and communicators in the exercise of their profession, and on the escalation of violence and repression against them, particularly in Latin America and the Caribbean, which to date is the region with the largest number of fatal attacks against journalists.

It also seeks to highlight and warn about attacks and restrictions on the press in the context of coverage of social protests; the activation of judicial mechanisms against journalists for reasons related to their journalistic work on matters of public interest; and the forced exile, which is increasingly one of the main options for dealing with repression in some countries in the region.

UNESCO said these facts are relevant in a context of constant stigmatization and discrediting by public officials and leaders towards the press, and are also intended to reflect on the role of these people, based on their public discourse and specific obligations.

This year’s edition of IDEI will also be used to emphasize the situation of violence against journalists and media workers during election periods.

In this sense, UNESCO said, it seeks to reaffirm the commitments of States and the responsibilities of the other actors involved to prevent and counteract the intolerance, discrimination and deliberate disinformation that permeates much of the debate in these contexts.

The objective is to give visibility to the role of a safe and free press in ensuring the integrity of elections and democratic systems.

The event will include multiple panels and discussions.  The sessions will delve into the obligation of States to adopt effective measures to protect the independent press and strengthen institutional frameworks that combat violence and impunity, and promote media independence, sustainability and diversity.