Threatened, attacked, beaten, imprisoned and killed, many journalists pay with their lives every year for their commitment to freedom of information and democracy. On International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists the IFJ launches its annual campaign to demand governments put an end to impunity and to highlight and denounce crimes targeting journalists that remain unpunished while the masterminds walk free.
Impunity happens when states fail to seek redress for crimes against media workers, including physical and online harassment, threats, attacks, arbitrary arrest, and murder. But that's not all. Impunity also occurs when those who ordered the crimes walk free and remain in power while others are used as scapegoats.
This year we are putting a specific emphasis on five countries where impunity rates for such crimes seriously threaten media freedom: Yemen, India, Russia, Mexico and Somalia.
While crimes against journalists go largely unpunished - according to the UN, only one out of ten of these crimes result in convictions - there has recently been some good news and a few landmark cases of killings of journalists have been resolved.
In the Philippines, the wheels of justice finally turned in a positive direction with guilty verdicts against the masterminds of the Mindanao massacre of 23 November 2009, the single deadliest attack on media, when 32 journalists were killed. Some of those linked to the brutal killing of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia were arrested and the alleged mastermind of the murder is facing criminal proceedings.
In Somalia, the Attorney General, in a clear move towards ending impunity, appointed a Special Prosecutor to investigate killings of journalists, while in Colombia, there was a historic ruling condemning those responsible for the threats, harassment and psychological torture of journalist Claudia Julieta Duque, forcing the Colombian state to pay her compensation.
These encouraging moves against impunity are evidence that governments can reduce the levels of impunity in their countries if they have the necessary political will to do so. However, positive cases remain rare and there’s still a lot of work to do.
These encouraging examples against impunity are evidence that governments can reduce the levels of impunity in their countries if they have the necessary political will to do so. However, positive cases remain rare and there’s still a lot of work to do.
The IFJ, along with its affiliates all over the world, will keep reporting and monitoring the investigations of every killed journalist wherever they happened and pushing the authorities to deliver justice. Impunity is a passport to more violence and attacks against our colleagues.
For the memory of our murdered comrades, for the safety and future of journalism: say no to impunity!