Reporters Without Borders hails the United Nations General Assembly’s adoption of its first resolution on the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity and on the creation of an International Day to End Impunity for crimes against journalists on November 2.
Adopted today by consensus by the Third Committee, this resolution meets calls that Reporters Without Borders has been making for years, in particular, in connection with the United Nations Plan of Action, and which it reaffirmed after the recent tragic death of two French journalists in Mali.
“With 89 journalists killed in connection with their work, 2012 was the deadliest year for journalists since Reporters Without Borders began producing an annual round-up in 1995,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire said.
“Another 52 journalists have been killed in connection with their work since the start of 2013. We were outraged by the murders of veteran French journalists Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon in Mali on November 2, as we have been by the murders of fellow journalists in Syria, Somalia, Pakistan, Brazil and other parts of the world in 2013.”
“The safety of journalists is an essential prerequisite for achieving freedom of expression, democracy, social development and peace. The resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly and the cause symbolized by the date chosen for International Day to End Impunity are more crucial than ever.
“By choosing this date, the United Nations is sending a strong message to those who persecute journalists. It is vital that all UN bodies continue to proclaim the importance of combatting impunity for those responsible for physical attacks against journalists.”
Resolution 1738, initiated by RWB, condemning intentional attacks against journalists in conflict situations, which the UN Security Council adopted in December 2006, and the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, adopted in April 2012, were very important prior steps in improving protection for journalists.
“This latest Resolution is undoubtedly a new step in the right direction,” Deloire said. “However, the problem that remains to be addressed is not a legal void but the lack of any verification of respect by member states for their obligations, in particular, their obligation to protect journalists, investigate all acts of violence and bring perpetrators to justice.
“That is why we are calling for effective monitoring of states’ respect for their obligations. And, at a time when ordinary citizens play a vital role in informing the public and when most violations against journalists happen outside of war situations, we are also calling for member states’ obligations to be extended to non-professional news providers and beyond armed conflict situations.”
The General Assembly resolution condemns all attacks and violence against journalists and media workers in both conflict and non-conflict situations and underlines the important role played by all news providers by stating that “journalism is continuously evolving to include inputs from media institutions, private individuals and a range of organizations that seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, online as well as offline.”
It also underlines states’ obligations to prevent violence and to bring perpetrators to justice, by urging “Member States to do their utmost to prevent violence against journalists and media workers, to ensure accountability through the conduct of impartial, speedy and effective investigations into all alleged violence against journalists and media workers falling within their jurisdiction, and to bring the perpetrators of such crimes to justice and to ensure that victims have access to appropriate remedies.”
Finally, it “invites the relevant agencies, organizations, funds and programmes of the United Nations system to consider identifying focal points for the exchange of information about the implementation of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, in cooperation with Member States under the overall coordination of UNESCO.”