By Catherine Ageno
New data from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has shown that the global impunity rate for journalist killings remains shockingly high at 86%.
UNESCO has thus renewed its call for all necessary measures to ensure that crimes committed against journalists are properly investigated and their perpetrators identified and convicted. In her message to mark the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, Audrey Azoulay, the Director-General of UNESCO says that silencing a journalist has consequences for everyone, so the world cannot turn a blind eye to impunity.
She notes that already this year over 70 journalists have had to pay the ultimate price of telling public interest stories, yet 9 out of 10 of the killings go unpunished. Audrey says impunity for crimes against journalists affects the core of our freedoms of expression and information and so the world must rise up against it.
UNESCO’s call comes at a time the Human Rights Network for Journalists (HRNJ) Uganda and other civil society organisations are planning to challenge in courts of law, the Computer Misuse Amendment (Amendment Bill 2022 that was recently assented to by President Museveni.
According to the organisations, the piece of legislation is meant to protect the corrupt while penalizing those demanding accountability from their leaders.
Mr. Robert Ssempala, the executive director of HRNJ-Uganda, told KFM earlier that the Computer Misuse Act is aimed at gagging media freedom and freedom of expression.
This year, we mark the 10th anniversary of the United Nations Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.
“This groundbreaking document was adopted to acknowledge the vital work journalists do – for example when they report on conflicts and crises, or when they inquire into the workings of power and investigate corruption and other forms of injustice – as well as the risks they face when doing this” Ms. Audrey said in a statement.
She added that “indeed, the safety of journalists, their freedom of expression and the free flow of information are pillars of democratic life, and a prerequisite for all human rights”.
Audrey further reveals that UNESCO has developed guidelines and toolkits, and trained over 24,000 judicial actors and 11,500 law enforcement and security officials on issues related to freedom of expression and the security of journalists, including in the digital world. She however notes that despite these efforts, journalists continue to be killed at an alarming rate.
According to our Observatory, 955 journalists have lost their lives since 2012. Seventy-one have been killed since January, making 2022 already the deadliest year since 2018.
“Therefore, on this anniversary, we must renew our commitment to protecting journalists everywhere, all the time”, she adds.