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Risking their lives to report the truth

Alisdare Hickson / Journalist and boy take cover /Flickr 2.0 Generic CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

1 November 2014 - Over the past decade, 700 journalists have been killed simply for doing their job. In 2014, 56 journalists have been killed – and in 90% of the cases, the killings have not been investigated, either because of insufficient resources or a lack of political will.

The majority of these deaths were deliberate murders committed in connection with journalists’ denunciation of crime and corruption. According to the index of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the countries where journalists' murders are most likely to go unpunished are Iraq, Somalia and the Philippines.

Iraq, with 100 percent impunity per 100 cases, tops the list, and has held the same position since CPJ’s survey’s inception in 2008.


End impunity for crimes against journalists

On Sunday 2 November, UNESCO with its UN and civil society partners will mark the first Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists to draw the world’s attention to this alarming situation which is limiting journalists’ ability to do their work and undermining the public’s right to be kept informed.  The date was chosen in commemoration of the assassination of two Radio France Internationale journalists, Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, who were killed in Kidal, Mali, in 2013.

 'No journalist anywhere should have to risk their life to report the news', says UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his message for the international day. 'A free and open press is part of the bedrock of democracy and development.'

On the international day, Reporters Without Borders is highlighting ten emblematic cases of impunity as part of its #FightImpunity campaign for the first International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists. The aim is to involve the general public and step up pressure on governments to bring those responsible for these crimes to justice.

Some of the reporters were murdered, such as Pakistani reporter Syed Saleem Shahzad, the young Serbian journalist Dada Vujasinovic, or the Dagestani journalistAkhmednabi Akhmednabiyev, who was gunned down in 2013. Others are held captive, like Dawit Isaak, a journalist with Swedish and Eritrean dual nationality, who has been held incommunicado in Eritrean President Issayas Aferworki’s prison camps for the past 13 years.

Whether killed execution-style, blown-up by a bomb, tortured to death or disappeared, these journalists paid much too high a price for their commitment to freedom of information.

Some key figures

  • Only 1 in 10 cases of crimes against journalists, social media producers and media workers has led to a conviction.
  • 593 killings of journalists have been condemned by UNESCO’s DG from 2006-2013.
  • 94% of killed journalists are local and only 6% are foreign correspondents.
  • Male journalists account for 94% of journalists killed.
  • Less than 6 % of the 593 cases are ever resolved.
  • 41% of killed journalists worked in print media.


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