By Asmau Ahmad
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), on Wednesday renewed its call for all necessary measures to ensure that crimes committed against journalists are properly investigated, and their perpetrators identified and convicted.
According to new UNESCO data, global impunity rate for journalist killings remains shockingly high at 86 per cent.
The UN cultural agency made the appeal in its message to mark the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists.
A decade ago, countries endorsed the UN action plan which aims to protect journalists, prevent crimes against them, and pursue their perpetrators.
“This groundbreaking document was adopted to acknowledge the vital work journalists do – for example when they report on conflicts and crises, or when they inquire into the workings of power.
“Also, when they investigate corruption and other forms of injustice – as well as the risks they face when doing this,” Ms Audrey Azoulay, the UNESCO Director-General, said.
Much progress has been made since the plan’s adoption, she reported, with concrete measures implemented at the national, regional and global levels.
UNESCO has also played a part, including through training nearly 36,000 judicial, law enforcement and security officials on issues such as freedom of expression and the security of journalists, including online.
However, “journalists continue to be killed at an alarming rate,” Azoulay said.
UNESCO data reveals that 955 journalists have lost their lives over the past decade, and 2022 has been the deadliest year since 2018.
Azoulay called for renewed commitment to protecting journalists everywhere, and at all times.
“This means in situations of conflict and crisis, of course, and UNESCO is supporting journalists in Ukraine and Afghanistan, for instance. It also means in times of peace – for that is when most journalists have been killed in recent years,” she said.
The UNESCO chief further called for stepping up efforts online, where new forms of violence have surfaced, especially targeting women, with three in four women journalists having experienced online harassment.