The AEJ marks the UN-declared International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, which falls on 2 November, with a Statement: ‘Impunity kills. End Impunity!’ The Statement is published here. It calls on government authorities and all concerned to combat impunity with vigour and determination. In 2015, the number of journalists killed worldwide was 115, the second highest annual number on record. Cover-ups and chronic failures of justice systems in some states mean that fewer than one in ten of all journalists’ killings lead to the killers being brought to justice.
“Impunity kills. End Impunity!”
AEJ Statement to mark the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists 2016
On 2 November 2013, two French journalists, Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, were abducted and killed by armed rebels in Mali. Later that year the UN General Assembly responded to those killings, and to the climate of impunity surrounding the increase in deadly violence against journalists worldwide, by adopting its first ever Resolution on the safety of journalist.
It named 2 November as the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, recognising the disturbing reality that in nine out of ten cases the killers of journalists go unpunished. Killing journalists is the most extreme form of censorship, and impunity leads to even more targeted violence and killings. UNESCO, the UN agency that leads international efforts to protect journalists and end impunity, says the very high rate of impunity signifies a breakdown of the rule of law and leads to the covering up of serious human rights abuses, corruption and crime.
This day provides a focus for the international community to honour journalists who have paid with their lives for their work, and for all concerned to commit themselves to combat impunity with vigour and determination. The world has become a more hostile environment for journalists, with 115 killings in 2015 alone including 13 in Syria. In the past ten years more than 800 journalists have been killed – either by terrorist groups or criminal gangs, or in armed conflicts, or by shadowy forces linked to political and business interests. And Europe is far from immune.
In the past decade 19 journalists were killed in Russia; 8 Charlie Hebdo staff members were massacred in their offices in Paris; and others have been killed in Ukraine, Turkey, Bulgaria, Greece and Poland. NGOs and journalists’ associations, including the AEJ, call on governments to live up to their international legal obligations to protect journalists from targeted violence and to end impunity. Members of the media can do more themselves, too, by strengthening safety policies, demonstrating real solidarity, and exposing the injustice and corruption that leads to impunity.