Approximately one journalist is killed each week in the line of duty, according to figures by the United Nations, which were released as the world marks the second International Day to End Impunity Against Journalists this Monday, which this year is centered on highlighting the growing atrocities and threats to freedom of speech, information dissemination and democracy around the globe.
“More than 700 journalists have been killed in the last decade – one every five days – simply for bringing news and information to the public. Many perish in the conflicts they cover so fearlessly. But all too many have been deliberately silenced for trying to report the truth,” said Mr. Ban in a message on the second World Day.
According to the U.N., 21 percent of these cases occurred in Latin America and the Caribbean. The area has seen 123 deaths between 2006 and 2013 – only 10.5 percent of which have been resolved. This makes it the region with the third highest reported cases or murder, after the Middle East and North Africa, Asia and the Pacific.
In Latin America, the problem is particularly severe in countries such as Mexico, which has one of the highest impunity rates in the region for crimes against journalists.
Earlier this year, the Mexican National Commission on Human Rights (CNDH) released a report saying 97 journalists have been killed in Mexico in connection with their work since 2010 alone, with very few investigations being launched into the cases. The report also noted 22 cases of disappearances and 433 attacks against journalists and media offices since 2005.
On a global scale, only 7 percent of cases involving crimes against journalists are ever resolved and less that 10 percent are ever fully investigated, according to U.N. numbers.
This impunity exasperates the problem since perpetrators of the crimes are “emboldened” when they realize they can attack their targets without ever facing justice, says the U.N.
However, these startling figures do not include the daily aggressions and violence that journalists encounter including non-fatal attacks, torture, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention, intimidation and harassment, and the extra risk for women journalists who face sexual attacks.
The attacks against journalists and freedom of the press represents a grave attack against democracy, since the kind of news that gets “silenced” is exactly the kind that the public needs to know, says the U.N.
The day to end impunity against journalists was proclaimed by the U.N. General Assembly last year to highlight the urgent need to protect journalists and develop collective action to end the cycle of impunity against them.
“We must do more to combat this trend and make sure that journalists can report freely. Journalists should not have to engage in self-censorship because they fear for their life,” said the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Nov. 2 was selected as the special day of commemoration in order to commemorate the assassination of two French journalists in Mali on the same date in 2013.
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