ARTICLE 19 delivered a statement to the 30th Session of the Human Rights Council, responding to the UN Secretary General’s report on safety of journalists and the issue of impunity.
As the Secretary General has said in his report to this Council, “sustained and focused attention remains necessary to reverse the deeply entrenched impunity for crimes against journalists.”
States are failing in their obligations: 59 journalists have been killed this year.
States are failing to prevent and prohibit attacks.
The abuse of legislation to criminalise journalists creates an environment of institutional violence where attacks by other actors are tacitly endorsed.
In Myanmar, journalist Par Gyi was arbitrarily detained by authorities in 2014 and later found shot dead with signs of torture. In Gambia, Community Radio Manager Alagie Abdoulie Ceesay was abducted in July and detained incommunicado, forced to open his emails and tortured: he is now facing sedition charges.
Arbitrary detention of journalists on trumped up charges or through the abuse of broad anti-terror laws receives too little attention: in Azerbaijan, Khadija Ismayilova; in Iran, Jason Rezaian and Sarajeddin Mirdamadi; in Egypt, 18 journalists in prison.
Abusive laws must be repealed, and all arbitrarily detained journalists released.
States are failing to protect against attacks.
ARTICLE 19 has recorded 4 murders of journalists in Brazil this year alone. The inadequacy of Mexico’s protection mechanism was highlighted with the murder of photojournalist Ruben Espinosa in August.
In Kenya, the murder of investigative reporter John Kituyi in April is emblematic of escalating violence against media in the region.
States are failing to ensure independent, speedy and effective investigations and prosecutions.
In Indonesia, 19 years after the killing of journalist Fuad Muhammad Syafruddin (Udin), justice has yet to be served.
In Russia, two years after the murder of journalist Akhmednabi Akhmednabiyev in Dagestan, Federal investigative mechanisms have failed to mobilise to hold those responsible to account.
In Bangladesh, four bloggers have been killed this year: Niloy Chakrabarti, Ananta Bijoy Das, Washiqur Rahman and Avijit Roy. The authorities are failing to ensure accountability.
ARTICLE 19 reiterates the Secretary General’s concerns that surveillance and States’ policies on anonymity and encryption pose increasing security risks to journalists online.
States must ensure that the Secretary General’s report, on top of past resolutions of this Council, becomes a catalyst for addressing the worsening environment for the safety of journalists.