Impunity: IFJ demands a Convention to enhance journalists’ safety

To mark the International Day to End Impunity for crimes committed against journalists on 2 November, the IFJ is calling on governments, journalists and media groups to support the adoption of a UN Convention on the safety and independence of journalists and other media professionals.

Credit: IFJ

Despite its worthy intentions, the United Nations Plan of Action on the Safety of journalists and impunity has been unable to deliver the “free and safe environment for journalists and media workers” it promised.

On the contrary, journalists continue to be attacked, beaten, detained, harassed and threatened for doing their job. At the same time,  ongoing threats to journalists' digital safety including cyber-attacks, data stealing, hacking and online harassment threaten the safety of media  professionals, making it even more urgent to adopt an instrument that would force governments to address impunity for violence targeting journalists and media personnel.

“We lack a binding international instrument that would force Member States to investigate and respond to attacks against journalists,” says IFJ President Dominique Pradalie.

The IFJ has already documented 59 killings of media professionals in 2022 so far, 12 more than in  2021

The IFJ has highlighted in particular countries such as Afghanistan, DRC, Haiti, India, Mexico, Kosovo, Pakistan, Palestine, the Philippines, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and Yemen where levels of violence against journalists remain at their highest. .

The Federation recalls that, despite many protocols, guidelines and proposals, nine out of ten killings of journalists still go  unpunished.

“ There is a growing frustration about the lack of action and political will to tackle impunity and support a free and independent media.  This is why we have launched a global campaign for the adoption of an International Convention dedicated to the protection of journalists and media professionals,” added Dominique Pradalie. 

The campaign was  formally launched at the 51st session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on 30 September.

The Convention highlights existing weaknesses and loopholes in international humanitarian and human rights law and the lack of effective enforcement mechanisms.

Dr Carmen Dragichi, who drafted the Convention for the Federation said: "The Draft Convention offers a consolidated legal framework for the protection of journalists. It codifies case-law obligations in treaty form, replacing multiple legal sources with one comprehensive, accessible instrument. It thus clarifies the scope of obligations under free speech provisions in human rights conventions, drawing on international case-law. It also ensures States explicitly subscribe obligations crystallised in decisions against other States, and assists national authorities in understanding their obligations, and it facilitates international oversight. [...] It also confers binding value to widely accepted but unenforceable soft law standards, increasing compliance and accountability."

Over 60 journalists and media unions, associations, media representative bodies, media organisations and NGOs across the world have already backed the convention.

To read the convention, click here

To support the convention, click here.

To read the Convention in Arabic, click here.