International Day against Impunity
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) took part in the International Day against Impunity for crime targeting journalists which was celebrated on 23 November 2011. This initiative was adopted by the last IFEX General Meeting in Beirut on the proposition of our regional group in Asia Pacific, the IFJ Asia Pacific. The date was chosen to mark the second anniversary of the Maguindano massacre in the Philippine which claimed 32 lives of journalists and many more innocent civilians in November 2009.
The IFJ considered this anniversary a day to remember all journalists killed because they believed in the purpose and mission of journalism, to raise awareness about the scandal of impunity and the failure of governments to bring the killers to justice and to pledge to do more to find ways of making journalism safer. This global event was an opportunity to denounce the prevailing culture of impunity for crime committed against journalists in many countries of the world and call for its end.
Programme of IFJ Affiliates' Activities
The Maguindanao Massacre: Never Forget
The main event on this International Day to End Impunity took place in London on the evening of 23 November, focusing on the massacre of 32 journalists in Maguindanao, the Philippines. The meeting which was organised jointly by the London-based Campaign
for Human Rights in the Philippines, with the support of the IFJ and the NUJ
UK, brought together a great audience at the Amnesty Human Rights Action Centre
in London. The presentation and discussion focused on the Ampatuan Town
Massacre two years on, the state of the trial and the need for judicial reform
for prosecuting human rights violations in the Philippines.
Speakers were IFJ President Jim Boumelha, Filipino journalist and lawyer Carlos Zarate, a judge formerly of the EU-Philippines Justice Support programme (EPJUST), Stefan Antor, and the campaign's UK chair, Mark Dean. The speakers examined in detail the lack of progress of the trial as more than half of the 195 accused remained at large, and attempts to stall and subvert the judicial process included offers of bribes, intimidation and deadly violence against witnesses.
This puts in perspective the massive steps needed for justice to be done. Dismantling scores of private armies and bringing about a greater civilian democratic control of a more professionalised military remain elusive tasks. And so do reforming the criminal justice system through from the police to the prosecutors and criminal procedures.
Most important President Aquino should be held up to his pre-election pledge to bring justice to the victims of the massacre and help their families. The meeting was supported by Amnesty and public service union Unison.
In the coming days, more activites are planned to keep the spotlight on the culture of impunity in the Philippines for violence targeting journalists. The highlight of these events will be the screening of the film Deadline: the reign of impunity by award-winning director Joel Lamangan - a thriller in which a journalist is threatened with murder when challenging the corruption of local politicians. Leading actor Alan Dizon will speak on the film.. Please find below information on dates and venues for the screening.
Saturday 3 December at 4.00pm film showing.
Where: Amnesty International Human Rights Action Centre,17-25 New Inn Yard, London EC2A 3EA
Sunday 11 December at 5.00pm film showing
Where: St Mary Abbots Hall, Vicarage Gate Kensington, London W8 4HW
Entrance £10 including meal.
The film will also be shown in European capitals in the coming months and a list of provisional dates for screening around Europe is attached for your information here.
The IFJ General Secretary, Beth Costa, attended a conference in Vienna organised by the Austrian Foreign Ministry on press freedom and the safety of journalists.
The Journalists' Trade Union of Azerbaijan (JuHI), visited the grave of Elmar Huseynov, a well- known journalist who was killed on 2 March 2005 for his work and whose killers have not been caught yet.. His murder case is the symbol of impunity in Azerbaijan. The union will renew their call for the case to be resolved and his murderers punished.
The IFJ affiliate in Norway, the Norsk Journalistlag, together with another Norwegian organisation called International Reporter, held a seminar on safety of journalists worldwide in Oslo which will bring together Norwegian journalists and exiled journalists living in Norway who will share their experiences. The seminar was also be addressed by journalists who are asylum seekers waiting for leave to remain in Norway.
The IMTUU, NUJU and the stop censorship campaign organised a demonstration outside the
Presidential offices to mark the global day against impunity. The protest was supported
by some 12 different Ukraine media and advocacy organisations, about 50 demonstrators, and was
well covered by the media.
It was followed by a press conference / round table on safety hosted by the NUJU which was attended by the spokesperson for the Ministry of Interior (responsible for the police). In addition to the issue of impunity, the Gongagdze trial held in secret and the failed investigations into other murders, the discussion focused on police/ journalists relations and the marked increase in violence against journalists over the past two years. It was proposed, and provisionally accepted by the government's spokesperson to set up a joint working group to train police on how to respect the rights of journalists.
Later in the afternoon a smaller delegation of NUJU and IMTUU delivered a petition to the Belarus embassy on failed investigations of journalists murdered there. The BAJ were organising a similar petition in Minsk to the Ukraine embassy.
The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) organised a one day conference in Nairobi, Kenya, bringing together journalists; human rights activits and members of the diplomatic community who are working on the situation in Somalia. The speaker of the Transitional Federal Parliament sent a message
of support in the fight against impunity. Two other events took place in Bossasso, northern Somalia and in the capital, Mogadishu.
The Uganda Journalists' Union (UJU)organised a conference in Kampala to denounce the lack of credible action by the authorities in the face of systematic attacks on journalists.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines ran a Facebook page which featured all activities to mark the second anniversary of the Maguindanao massacre. You can follow the preparations and join in the action here
Middle East and Arab World
The IFJ Middle East and Arab World launched a call to action poster with the names of killed journalists in the region which was sent to governments in the region to demand an end to impunity for violence against journalists.
The Iraqi Journalists' Syndicate (IJS) organised a conference in Baghdad, to reiterate its demands to end violence against journalists in Iraq, and to pursue investigations in the cases of journalists killed in the country. The union sent a letter to the IFJ with a message of solidarity with journalists around the world, in memory of killed journalists.
In Irbil, the Kurdistan Journalists' Syndicate (KJS) held a conference for the journalists' community, with the participation of the KJS president, the union's lawyer, and a representative who spoke on behalf of families of killed journalists.
The safety office at the Yemeni Journalists' Syndicate (YJS) organised a seminar entitled "Bringing Journalists' killers to Justice". Families of killed journalists, journalists, employers, academics, human rights' activists and experts were invited to this event for a discussion on the situation journalists are facing and the legal consequences of the recent killings of seven journalists in the country.
The safety offices of the Palestinian Journalists' Syndicate (PJS) in Ramallah and Gaza organised a seminar entitled: ‘No escape from Justice for journalists' killers'. The PJS also sent a letter to the President and the Prime Minister calling on them to address the issue of violence against journalists. The meetings brought together union representatives, journalists, representatives of the independent Committee for Human Rights in Palestine and other human rights organisations, government officials and media managers, to discuss - and adopt recommendations to counter - impunity in Palestine. A photo exposition in memory of killed journalists was presented in Ramallah.
The Mauritanian Journalists' Syndicate (SJM) held a conference at his headquarters which will be attended by journalists, officials and political parties' representatives, human rights organisations, lawyers, the Parliamentarian group for journalists' advocacy, and relevant international organisations. The conference included debates and testimonies as well as the adoption of recommendations.
The Egyptian Syndicate of Journalists (EJS) marked the day by organising an important meeting of journalists and families of journalists killed during the Arab spring. The union also organised a photo exhibition on journalists' safety and impunity.
The safety office of the Lebanese Press Order (LPO) organised a seminar and press conference on the question of impunity.
The IFJ regional group, FEPALC, launched a special call on governments in the region to bring to justice killers of the 32 journalists who lost their lives in targeted killings. The Federation focused on Mexico, Brazil and Honduras which alone represent over 70% of media killings. In Colombia, journalists arranged for a minute of silence on behalf of killed journalists to be observed on broadcast media throughout the day.