In recognition of the supreme sacrifice paid by journalists killed in the line of duty, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) on June 1, 2015 dedicated the 2015 Golden Pen of Freedom, its annual press freedom award, to all Journalists killed in the line of duty.
The dedication of the award was done during the opening ceremony of the 67th World News Media Congress, 22nd World Editors Forum and 25th World Advertising Forum which commenced on June 1 in Washington D.C.
President of the WORLD Editors’ Forum, Marcelo Rech, who accepted the award, said “Since 1992, more than 1,100 journalists have been killed just because they brought the truth to light or manifested their points of view”.
Speaking to an audience of more than 900 publishers, chief editors and other senior newspaper executives from around the world, Rech said “The tragedy of this massacre is amplified by a staggering statistic: in nine out of 10 murders of journalists, the authors remain unpunished. Ultimately, this is the fuel that feeds the slaughter: impunity encourages new crimes, tarnishes the whole of society with blood, and denies the right every citizen has to a free press”.
Rech reiterated that: “There is no freedom without freedom of expression. And there is no freedom of expression without protection and safety for the practice of journalism. That is why we are here today, to celebrate freedom, and to reaffirm our commitment to all those killed in the line of duty that we will not falter, we will not let their sacrifice be in vain. Our answer will be now and always, to strive for the highest ideals of journalism: to denounce all forms of injustice and thus to contribute to a more peaceful and to a free world.”
Dedicating the 2015 Golden Pen of Freedom to journalists killed in the line of duty is aimed at sending a powerful message to the perpetrators of crimes against the media, to legislators and those with the power to enact better laws and enforce stronger protections for newsgatherers around the world. It is an exceptional award made to honour fallen journalists and focus the international spotlight on the issue of safety and impunity for journalists worldwide.
Statistics from the Committee to Protect Journalists’ (CPJ) reports show that 87% (approximately 980) of those who have been killed since 1992 were local journalists. The deadliest countries for journalists within the period were listed as Iraq (166 deaths since 1992), Syria (80), Somalia (56), Pakistan (56) and Mexico (32).
This points to the fact that local journalists, likely less well trained, financed, and supported, are covering beats foreign journalists can either no longer access, or to which their news companies are no longer willing to send them. The moral responsibility to better protect colleagues, wherever they may be, is indisputable, reiterated WAN-IFRA.
WAN-IFRA noted that conflict and war account for a large proportion of the total number of the recorded deaths and that 51% of them have involved journalists working in print media.