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Taking A Stand

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the specialised agency of the UN aimed at promoting World Peace and Security through international cooperation in education, arts, sciences and culture, has claimed in its latest report that the global impunity rate for journalist killings remains shockingly high at 86%! The UN agency has also renewed its call for all necessary measures in order to ensure that crimes, committed against journalists, are properly investigated and their perpetrators identified and convicted.

The UN has taken initiatives to reduce crimes against persons belonging to the media. During discussions on this issue in Vienna on November 1, 2022, this sensational data came up. UNESCO called the global immunity rate for journalist killings “shockingly high” while marking the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists.

Audrey Azoulay, the Director-General of UNESCO, stressed: “On the 10th anniversary of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists, I call on Governments and all stakeholders to redouble their efforts to end impunity for crimes against journalists.” She also said: “Freedom of Expression cannot be protected when there is such a staggering number of unresolved cases. It has a chilling effect on investigative reporting, a field of journalism which is vital to the health of any Democracy.” According to Azoulay, convictions have increased by just 9% over the past decade.

Azoulay is of the opinion that impunity leads to more murders, as it is a symptom of worsening conflict, and the breakdown of legal and judicial systems. She has stated that UNESCO is deeply concerned with damages of impunity, adding that the entire society is trying to cover up serious Human Rights abuses, corruption, and crime. She has urged the Governments, civil society, the media, and everyone concerned to uphold the Rule of Law and to join in the global efforts to end impunity.

Meanwhile, the UN agency has stated that it is working with member-states for developing and implementing National Media Laws and Policies, apart from arranging training sessions for judges, prosecutors and security forces in order “to enforce the Rights of Journalists and to ensure that attacks against them are investigated and prosecuted“.

Incidentally, 117 journalists were murdered while on duty in 2020-21. In addition, 91 others were killed while off the clock. UNESCO has mentioned in its report that many of these journalists were killed in front of their family members, including children. The report has revealed that more than 1,200 journalists had been killed across the globe between 2006 and 2020, with close to nine out of 10 cases of these killings remaining judicially unresolved.

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