Threats against journalists harm us all, warns UN chief

Threats against journalists harm us all, warns UN chief
November 03 14:26 2022

Governments and the international community must take action to protect the people who bring us the news, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in his message on the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, observed on Wednesday.

The Secretary-General underscored the importance of a free press, which he said is vital to a functioning democracy, exposing wrongdoing, navigating our complex world, and advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – the blueprint for a more just, equitable and greener future.

“On this International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, let us honour our media workers, and stand up for truth, justice and human rights for all,” he said.

Despite their critical role, more than 70 journalists have been killed this year alone.

“Most of these crimes go unsolved. Meanwhile, a record number of journalists are incarcerated today, while threats of imprisonment, violence, and death keep growing,” said Mr. Guterres.

Furthermore, a surge in disinformation, online bullying and hate speech, particularly against women journalists, is contributing to the stifling of media workers around the globe.

“Intimidation through the abuse of legal, financial and other means, is undermining efforts to hold the powerful accountable. These trends threaten not only journalists, but society as a whole,” he added.

A decade ago, countries endorsed the UN action plan which aims to protect journalists, prevent crimes against them, and pursue their perpetrators.

“This groundbreaking document was adopted to acknowledge the vital work journalists do – for example when they report on conflicts and crises, or when they inquire into the workings of power and investigate corruption and other forms of injustice – as well as the risks they face when doing this,” said Audrey Azoulay, the UNESCO Director-General.

Much progress has been made since the plan’s adoption, she reported, with concrete measures implemented at the national, regional and global levels.

UNESCO has also played a part, including through training nearly 36,000 judicial, law enforcement and security officials on issues such as freedom of expression and the security of journalists, including online.

However, “journalists continue to be killed at an alarming rate”, said Ms. Azoulay.  UNESCO data reveals that 955 journalists have lost their lives over the past decade, and 2022 has been the deadliest year since 2018. UN NEWS

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