The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has said that recommendations by the Special Rapporteur on extra judicial killings and summary executions to the 20th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council are a step in the right direction but urged the Council to hold states to their international obligations.
This followed the report of Christof Heyns , the UN Special Rapporteur on extra judicial killings and summary executions, to the Human Rights Council yesterday in Geneva. In his report, Mr. Heyns focused on the killings of journalists whom he warned "are killed at an alarming rate by States and non-States actors while others are intimidated into self-censorship."
His report identifies impunity as one of the main reasons for journalists' killings, most of whom are local reporters covering corruption, crime and human rights issues. He notes that "The problem does not lie with gaps in the international legal framework. The challenge is rather to ensure that the established international framework is fully used and that its norms are reflected in domestic laws and practices." He recommends raising the awareness about the issue of journalists' killings "from the local to national and international levels."
The IFJ welcomed the report's findings and recommendations, saying that they represent an indictment of governments' failure to protect journalists.
"The fact that far too many journalists continue to lose their lives, in times of peace and for reasons related to their professional activities, is an indictment of many governments' failure to fulfill their obligations to protect our colleagues' most fundamental right --- the right to life," said IFJ Human Rights and Communications Officer, Ernest Sagaga in a statement to the Council.
The Federation also called on the United Nations and its specialized agencies, especially the Human Rights Council, to play a more engaging role.
"This involves taking a clear stand against states which systematically violate their own laws and international treaties they are a Party to, in denial of - or indifference to - what has become a regular pattern of targeted killings of journalists," added Sagaga.
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The IFJ represents more than 600.000 journalists in 134 countries