Challenging impunity: UNESCO invites Member States to report on killings of journalists

2017-03-10

UNESCO this week has sent out its regular request to Member States to report on judicial follow-up to killed journalists.

UNESCO this week has sent out its regular request to Member States to report on judicial follow-up to killed journalists.

The Director-General’s 2017 inquiry invites updated information from 62 Member States where killings of journalists have taken place.

States are requested to inform the Organization on the status of the legal investigations following killings that the Director-General has condemned, and where there has not been a judicial resolution. Responses are requested by 30 May.

The call is based on the request of the Intergovernmental Council of UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication, which urges Member States to “inform the UNESCO Director-General on the status of the judicial inquiries conducted on each of the killings [of journalists] condemned by the Director-General”.

The information provided by Member States this year will feed into the next edition of the UNESCO publication World trends in freedom of expression and media development (World Trends Report), scheduled for release in November 2017.

The World Trends Report is based on Resolution 53 of UNESCO’s 36th General Conference which calls for the Organisation to monitor the status of press freedom and safety of journalists, with emphasis on impunity for violence against journalists, including the judicial follow-up through the IPDC, and to report to future General Conferences.

Since 2008, the biennial UNESCO Director-General’s Report on the Safety of Journalists and the Danger of Impunity has collected and analysed Member States’ replies on the judicial proceedings on cases of killed journalists. The Director-General’s Report and the World Trends Report are published in alternate years.

Over the course of the last 11 years, the Director-General has publicly condemned 929 killings of journalists and media workers. This represents on average one casualty every four days.

Based on the information submitted by Member States, UNESCO calculates that less than one out of ten cases of killings of journalists has led to a conviction. This level of impunity is widely considered to be the greatest obstacle to safety of journalists and freedom of expression worldwide, as perpetrators are quick to perceive that they can get away with murder.

The response rate of Member States to the Director-General’s request has been increasing in recent years, with almost 65% of the concerned Member States responding last year, compared to 47% in 2015 and 27% in 2014. With the Member State’s consent in given cases, the replies are published on the UNESCO Condemns Killing of Journalists-webpage.

The status of responses provides a detailed picture of which cases have been resolved, which are still in process or those where no information has been received.  The latest information per country is available here.