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UNESCO protects journalists against impunity

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By Mercy Kelani

Over 1,000 journalists killed between 2006 and 2020, worldwide.

The International Day to End Impunity for Crime against Journalists (IDEI) is annually observed worldwide on November 2, as an UN-recognized international day. This day also marks the death of two French journalists, Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, killed while reporting in Mali. The observance of the international day is to create awareness concerning the level of impunity for crimes against journalists which tends to be exceedingly high across the globe. According to the UNESCO observatory of killed journalists, over 1,000 journalists have been killed worldwide between 2006 and 2020, with less than 10 cases of these killings yet to be judicially resolved.

IDEI, November 2, gives organizations and individuals across the globe the motivation to speak up concerning unresolved cases in their respective countries, writing to government and intra-governmental officials with demand for action and justice. Based on the findings of the UNESCO Director-General’s biennial report on the Safety of Journalists and the Danger of Impunity, UNESCO ensures the organization of an awareness-raising campaign, which is concerned about registering the responses of states to the formal request of UNESCO, for updates on progress in cases of killings of journalists and media workers.

UNESCO is strategizing a more efficient plan to protect journalists.

During the marking of the 2021 International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, the Chairman of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Lagos State Council, Adeleye Ajayi and the Media Rights Agenda (MRA) Director, Edetaen Ojo, appealed to the Federal Government and Security Agencies in Nigeria to stop further attacks and reinvestigate past assaults on media practitioners. It was added that a specialized team of prosecutors should be established to enable efficient investigation and prosecution of perpetrators of crimes against journalists and media workers, in fulfillment of its regional and international treaty obligations to see to the safety of journalists. These suggestions are in response to the murder of 10 Nigerian journalists within four years.

UNESCO is currently organizing multiple consultations with local stakeholders to compile the progress and challenges to protect journalists in the last ten years, in order to strategize a more effective implementation of the Plan. The implementation will be built upon the success stories and lessons derived in the specific context of each region, with the consultations informing a set of recommendations which will be presented at the Ministerial Conference in Vienna during which the renewal of political commitment towards the implementation for the UN Plan will take place.

Stakeholders will discuss prosecution of crimes against journalists.

For the commemoration of the 2022 international Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists and the 10-year Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, a conference will be held on November 3-4, 2022, in Vienna, Australia; the conference is convened by the Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs in collaboration with UNESCO and OHCHR. The aim of the conference is to enable a joint multi-stakeholder reflection process on the prevention, protection and prosecution of crimes against journalists.

The first day of the conference, November 3, 2022, will be a gathering of Civil Society organizations to relate lessons and best practices concerning the implementation of the UN Plan. It will also entail a discussion of strategies efficient in tackling emerging crime-impunity issues against journalists; while the second day, November 4, 2022, will host a Ministerial conference during which the series of consultations organized with local stakeholders will inform a set of recommendations for presentation.

UNESCO urges govts, everyone to join in the global efforts to end impunity.

Impunity brings about more killings and is oftentimes a sign of worsening conflict and the breakdown of law and judicial systems. According to UNESCO observatory of killed journalists, since 1990-2020 there have been 2658 journalists across the globe that have been killed without justice due to impunity for crimes. Consequently, UNESCO affirmed that impunity causes damages to societies by ignoring heinous Human Rights abuses, Corruption and crime. Therefore, governments, civil society, the media, and everyone in the position to uphold the Rule of Law are urged to join in the global efforts to end impunity.


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