Event: End Impunity for Attacks on Journalists

Event: End Impunity for Attacks on Journalists - Protection

Wednesday, 17 September 2014; 13:30 – 15:00 

Room XXI, Palais des Nations, 27th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

Of more than 500 murders of journalists in the last 10 years, 9 out of 10 have gone unpunished. The rate of impunity for other forms of attack is higher still. Impunity thrives on a climate of silence and fear.

On 2 November 2014, the UN will celebrate the first International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists. During the 27th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, ARTICLE 19 will hold a side event to explore challenges in the fight to eradicate impunity, highlight positive practices, and call for concrete action from States on this issue.

Ending impunity is critical to end the cycle of violence against journalists. Each case represents an attack on journalists as individuals and against the right of all people to seek, receive and impart information. The failure by States to ensure accountability is an assault on freedom of expression and democracy itself, and brings into question the effectiveness of the international community’s response.

Investigations into attacks on journalists are often delayed, and ignore or recognise too late the motive of perpetrators to silence victims. Investigations and prosecutions also prove ineffective when they are not insulated from the influence of corrupt politicians, public officials and organised criminals. Where independent mechanisms do exist, they face problems of design, political support, and adequate resources to gather evidence and secure convictions.

Powerful interests also exploit legal frameworks unfavourable to freedom of expression to intimidate against open debate and shut down criticism, undermining efforts to prevent and protect against attacks. Exacerbating the climate of impunity further still is the lack of information on attacks, and a lack of transparency in investigations and prosecutions. Secrecy and intimidation are the key tools some States and others exploit to shield themselves from scrutiny and accountability.

Ahead of the first UN International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, join us to discuss:

  • What must States do to end impunity for attacks on journalists?
  • What can protection and investigation mechanisms achieve, and what challenges do they face?
  • What are the obstacles to implementing the UN Plan of Action on safety of journalists, and what can the Human Rights Council do to alleviate these?

Moderator: Thomas Hughes, Executive Director, ARTICLE 19, international

Panellists: Dunja Mijatović, Representative on Freedom of The Media, OSCE

Guy Berger, Director, Freedom of Expression & Media Development, UNESCO

Prima Quinsayas, Private Prosecutor in Ampatuan Massacre Media Killings, Philippines

Gregori Shvedov, Editor-in-Chief, Caucasian Knot online news medium, Russia

Luciana Garcia, Former Director of Human Rights Defense Department of the Human Rights Secretariat, Brazil