Impunity of those who kill journalists lead to more murders

Killers of journalists go unpunished nine out of ten times - leading to more murders of those who report and bring vital information to the public.

This is according to UNESCO in a statement marking the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists (IDEI) commemorated on November 2. The date was chosen to remember the assassination of two French journalists Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Vernon on 2 November 2013 in Mali.

In her IDEI message, UNESCO director-general Audrey Azoulay said while many journalists lose their lives covering conflict, many are being killed outside of conflict zones.

“[Journalists are also killed] for investigating issues such as corruption, trafficking, political wrongdoing, human rights violations and environmental issues,” Azoulay said.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists’ Global Impunity Index, 277 journalists were killed worldwide between September 1, 2010, and August 31, 2020. For the sixth year in a row, Somalia topped this year’s CPJ impunity index for the unsolved murders of 26 journalists.

In their statement, UNESCO said impunity is “often a symptom of worsening conflict and the breakdown of law and judicial systems”.

Somalia has been battling armed conflict for decades and Al-Shabaab, a jihadist fundamentalist group, has militantly disturbed the lives of many Somalis including that of journalists.

Speaking to frayintermedia, Maryan Seylac, the executive director of the Somali Media Women Association said Somalia’s instability coupled with a controversial media law make a conducive environment for impunity to thrive.

“In this year only, we lost two journalists and the killers are probably somewhere out enjoying their lives. These journalists and their families and friends deserve justice, and I hope that they will get it soon,” Seylac said.

Namibia Media Trust director Zoé Titus said it is important that people stand with Somali media in support of their demands for justice.

“It is up to us to support Somalian media and demand that authorities investigate cases of killings or attacks on journalists, media outlets and critics,” Titus said in a statement.

Press freedom is largely stifled in sub-Saharan Africa. Journalists in 21 countries work under “bad” or “very bad” press freedom conditions as illustrated on the Reporters Without Borders 2020 World Press Freedom Index map.

Seylac, who has survived a car bomb suicide attack, said it is a country duty that motivates journalists such as herself to carry on reporting despite facing difficult working conditions.

“I think being a journalist is the best job someone can have, and I wouldn’t change for the world,” she said.

On 10 December, UNESCO and the Kingdom of the Netherlands will commemorate IDEI 2020. Find out more here.

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