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2015 was the second deadliest year for journalists in a decade with 115 journalists killed across the globe, according to the UN. The report published by UNESCO shows that on average, every five days a journalist is killed for bringing information to the public and attacks on media professionals are often perpetrated in non-conflict situations by organized crime groups, militia, security personnel, and even local police, making local journalists among the most vulnerable.
Looking at the issue regionally, the findings of the report show that Arab States were most affected by journalists’ killings during the time of this report, with 36 percent of all cases occurring in this region. This number is attributed to the ongoing conflict situations in the Syrian Arab Republic, Iraq, Yemen and Libya.
According to Irina Bokova, the Director General of UNESCO, since 2006, they have cumulatively received information from 59 member states on 402 killings out of 827 in the last decade but just a few have been handled conclusively. And only 63 of the 402 cases have been reported and resolved, representing 16 percent of the cases for which information was received and only 8 per cent of all killings registered by UNESCO.
“We need new mobilization to implement the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the issue of impunity. More than ever before, we must do everything to protect journalists and fight against impunity. Fighting impunity for crimes against journalists is vital for implementing SDG 16.10, to ensure public access to information and to enhance protection of journalists in danger and prosecute perpetrators of attacks,” the Director General said.
The UN Agency called on all member states to do everything to bring perpetrators to justice by developing and strengthening laws and mechanisms in accordance with international humanitarian law and existing UN resolutions.
UNESCO is also using this day to launch the awareness raising campaign; “My Killers Are Still Free” to highlight the key findings of the Director General’s report. It features testimonials of close relatives of journalists killed because of their work in Africa, Asia & Pacific as well as Latin America.
The latest report, however, shows that there is an increase in the number of member states showing stronger will to monitor and report on these crimes.