Campaign against impunity 2017

Impunity is when threats, attacks and crimes against journalists go unpunished. It results in a high level of fear, intimidation, censorship and self-censorship that undermines press freedom, the public right to know and leaves victims and their relatives powerless.

According to IFJ statistics, Opens external link in new window56 journalists have lost their lives while carrying out their duties since the beginning of the year. Today only one out of 10 killings of journalists is investigated. The situation for non-fatal attacks on journalists is even worse. Governments fail in their duty to hunt down the harassers, the attackers, the killers of media workers. Impunity not only endangers journalists, it imperils democracy and compromises hopes for peace and development. Legal guarantees exist for the protection of journalists as civilians which states are duty bound to enforce under domestic and international law (read more below).

Our #endimpunity campaign 2017 aims at holding governments and de facto governments accountable for their impunity records and denouncing any crimes targeting journalists that remain unpunished. Murder is the highest form of these crimes but all attacks targeting journalists that remain unpunished must be denounced.

Opens external link in new windowAccess the campaign´s resources page

While we are targeting all governments and de facto governments that have failed to investigate those crimes we are putting a specific emphasis on seven countries: Initiates file downloadMexico, Opens external link in new windowPakistan, Opens external link in new windowAfghanistan, Opens external link in new windowIraq, Opens external link in new windowYemen,Initiates file download Somalia, Initiates file downloadUkraine.

The crisis of violence and impunity in Mexico, one of the countries with the highest number of crimes against journalists, shows no signs of abating. Since early 2010, at least 72 journalists and press workers have lost their lives whilst exercising their profession, including 12 in 2017, in the general context of violence that has been pounding the country since the beginning of the so-called “war on drugs”. Alongside the assassinations, at least 23 press workers have gone missing. In areas such as Veracruz and Oaxaca, the situation is particularly desperate owing to the widespread infiltration of drug trafficking among state security forces.

The high level of impunity in Afghanistan causes an increasing number of threats and violence against journalists. The IFJ registered 48 journalists killed in the last ten years, including six deaths in 2017. The harassment of media workers comes from authorities and government officials. There is no prosecution of those who assault journalists for their critical reporting. The threats and insults from the police officers in provinces endangers trust in a fair and independent investigation as well as discouraging journalists from reporting violations against them. 

Pakistan has long been among the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists, with 94 journalists and media workers having lost their lives since 2007. This represents almost one journalist killed every month. The armed insurgency and sectarian violence account for a number of these killings but many of them raise suspicions of the involvement of the state’s institutions.

Iraq became one of the deadliest places for journalists in the light of prolonged conflicts in the country. There were 161 journalists killed since 2007, which represents more than one killed journalist per month. This is a result of the US-led invasion and occupation, consecutive civil war and Islamic State’s control over some territories. Frequent threats and attacks from the authorities encourage police not to take any action to resolve the cases of harassment.

In Yemen, 28 journalists have died since 2007, three of whom have been killed in 2017. Journalists were killed in cross fire, by Houthi snipers or aerial bombings by the Saudi led coalition. Some were killed as a result of targeted assassinations. Opens external link in new windowPolitical polarization and direct threats forced hundreds of Yemeni journalists to flee the country. More than 50 have been kidnapped or arrested, almost all of them by the Houthis, after being accused of spying and treason. As a result, they constantly face the threats of being killed and tortured.

The IFJ knows of 61 journalists killed in Somalia since 2007. Media workers in 2017 were frequently injured in either targeted bomb blasts or terrorist attacks in this part of the Horn of Africa. The former government of Somalia, which is well known for violating journalists’ rights and suppression of press freedom, has left many cases of threatened or killed journalists uninvestigated. All government pronouncements or launches of investigations of killings of journalists led to no credible conclusions or any criminal prosecution. Independence of the judiciary is tremendously undermined. Judges are also threatened with losing their jobs through presidential decree. The new government elected in 2017 has not taken any efficient step to prevent and stop the alarming harassment of journalists, nor any sanctions to punish those who continue to obstruct the work of media workers. 

Ten journalists have lost their lives in the past ten years in Ukraine. The number of threats is still growing and impunity has been present in the country for decades. The crimes against journalists, who covered the riots and fights since the Euromaidan demonstration in 2013, are not properly investigated and suspects are often released due to procedural failures. The IFJ registers many cases of attacks against journalists, violation of their rights, the expulsion of foreign reporters and even a journalist who went missing while reporting on a story. 

There can be no press freedom where journalists work in fear.

Join the campaign now, show your solidarity and support by endorsing our activities scheduled this year!


The UN Day to end impunity for crimes against journalists was adopted on 18 December 2013 and will be marked on 2 November, the fourth anniversary of the Opens external link in new windowkillings of two RFI reporters, Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, murdered in Kidal, Mali in 2013.

It comes ahead of another important date of 23 November which commemorates the Opens external link in new window2009 Maguindanao massacre in the Philippines when at least 32 journalists lost their lives in the single deadliest attack on media.

Our activities  

  • We are collaborating with our affiliates on targeted campaigns in Mexico, Pakistan, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and Yemen to advocate for justice and resolution of cases of impunity
  • We will organise an international Opens external link in new windowconference on Impunity in Tunis on 16 November, together with our local affiliate SNJT. For more info contact fahem.snjt(at)gmail(dot)com
  • We are holding governments and de facto governments of these countires accountable for their impunity records and organising different activities around this
  • We are calling on intergovernmental organisations to make a stand against impunity and support our campaign
  • We are organising media coverage of the issue of impunity
  • Our 27th killed list will be presented at the beginning of January 2018 as a follow up to our campaign

Get involved

  • Send a Initiates file downloadletter to the Mexican ambassador of your country asking him to urge his government to address impunity in Mexico.
  • Opens window for sending emailSign up to the campaign to indicate that your union is supporting our actions. It will appear as such in our communications about the campaign and be listed on our Opens external link in new windowaffiliates' activity page 
  • Get informed! Like our Opens external link in new windowFacebook page and follow us on twitter Opens external link in new window@IFJGlobal Opens external link in new window@ifjasiapacific Opens external link in new window@IFJAfrica Opens external link in new window@FIP_AL #endimpunity to be kept informed about the campaign
  • Download the campaign poster in EN, Initiates file downloadFR, Initiates file downloadES, use it during the campaign in your electronic signature, on your twitter account, your facebook page or your web site. Encourage all your members and their friends to download it, take pictures holding it and share them on facebook, post them on twitter and attach a brief message to the President or Prime Minister of your country, urging them to take a public stand against impunity for crimes targeting journalists.
  1. Sample for twitter: “President or Prime Minister [add name] ,on @UN Day v. impunity what are you doing to end violence against journalists in [add name of country] #EndImpunity”
  2. Sample for facebook: “Dear [add Mr/Ms President or Mr/Ms Prime Minister],On this UN Day against impunity for crimes targeting journalists, we urge you to take a public stand against all forms of violence against media professionals in [add name of your country] and direct your government’s services to investigate all attacks on journalists and media staff. Thank You”. Send it to us so that we can share with all the IFJ family.
  • Send letters to your own government or to the government of targeted countries holding them accountable for their impunity records. Organise a visit to their embassies in your country to deliver the letter, take photographs and disseminate them widely, Opens window for sending emailsend them to us so that we can share them in our own network and support you. 
  • Contact your newsroom about publishing /broadcasting stories about impunity on 2 November
  • Commemorate special impunity days: UN Day against impunity for crimes against journalists (2 November).
  • Organise a march or a specific activity (conference, minute's silence, group picture holding the impunity poster) to show your solidarity. Take pictures of the activities; share them on your social media and Opens window for sending emailwith us.
  • Make a short video. If you know a colleague or a family member of a killed journalist in your country, we urge you to talk to them and ask them to make a two-minute video message about the need to secure justice for their loved ones which we can post on the IFJ website and share in our social networks. Send them to: Opens window for sending emailInternIFJ(at)ifj(dot)org

Victories against impunity

Opens external link in new windowCase Dekendra Raj Thapa Opens external link in new windowCase Wali Khan Babar

Watch video messages and read testimonies from colleagues, relatives and friends

Opens external link in new windowJefry Tupas Leader of the section of Mindanao National Union of Journalists in Philippines 

Opens external link in new windowN'oublions pas nos collègues disparu.e.s (France) 

Opens external link in new window "Ma fille a été tuée 3 mois après son mari" (Iraq)

 Opens external link in new windowMario López Ayala (Mexico)

Opens external link in new windowIFJ President Philippe Leruth urges governments worldwide to address impunity

Read existing texts to combat impunity 

Opens external link in new windowThe Safety of Journalists and the Danger of Impunity, UNESCO Director General’s report. This report, released every two years, includes information on judicial inquiries into the killings of journalists, and other steps that governments are taking to end impunity. The 2014 report was prepared following the Opens external link in new windowDecision on the safety of journalists adopted at the 28th session of the IPDC’s Intergovernmental Council, in March 2012, urging Member States to “comply with the relevant obligations under international law to end impunity” and “to inform the Director-General of UNESCO, on a voluntary basis, of the actions taken to prevent the impunity of the perpetrators and to notify him of the status of the judicial inquiries conducted on each of the killings condemned by UNESCO”.

Opens external link in new windowResolution of the UN Security Council 1738 (2006): the resolution condemns attacks against journalists in conflict situations and urge "states and all other parties to an armed conflict to do their utmost to prevent violations of international humanitarian law against civilians, including journalists, media professionals and associated personnel". 

Opens external link in new windowResolution of the UN Security Council 2222 (2015) urges member states to take appropriate steps to ensure accountability for crimes committed against media workers during armed conflicts and calls on all parties of an armed conflict to comply fully with the obligations applicable to them under international law related to the protection of civilians in armed conflict, including journalists.

Opens external link in new windowUNESCO Resolution 29 “Condemnation of Violence Against Journalists” adopted by the UNESCO General Conference at its 29th session on 12 November 1997, which called on Member States to remove any statute of limitations on crimes against persons when such crimes are "perpetrated to prevent the exercise of freedom of information and expression or when their purpose is the obstruction of justice" and which urged governments to "refine legislation to make it possible to prosecute and sentence those who instigate the assassination of persons exercising the right to freedom of expression".