Violence against journalists is on the rise

By Staff on December 16, 2014


Photo: Nelson Antoice/Fotoarena/Sipa USA/AP Images

The UNESCO Director-General’s biennial report on “The Safety of Journalists and the Danger of Impunity” was presented on Nov. 21, 2014 in Paris before the Intergovernmental Council of the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC).

The report included a list of 593 individuals who died for practicing journalism between 2006 and 2013.

The first name on the list was Prahlad Goala, a journalist who began receiving threats after publishing a series of articles in the Asomiya Khabar newspaper linking local forestry service officials to timber smuggling in the district of Golaghat (India). On Jan. 6, 2006 he left his home on a motorcycle and was apparently struck by a truck. When police arrived at the scene, they found that he had been stabbed. In 2006, 70 journalists died.

Nearly eight years later, Omar al-Dulaimy died on Dec. 31, 2013 while covering an armed confrontation in the city of Ramadi, west of Baghdad. Al-Dulaimy was the last of a total of 91 in 2013.

The last two years, 2012-2013, were the most deadly since UNESCO’s director-general began producing the biennial report. The latest report was presented before the 39 member states of the IPDC, which is in charge of discussing the report’s findings.

The report reveals that the ten most dangerous countries in 2012-2013 were Syria (48 victims), Somalia (25), Iraq (18), Pakistan (18), the Philippines (12), Brazil (11), Mexico (10), Honduras (9), India (7) and Colombia (6). The situation in Egypt is also noteworthy since during the previous seven years only one journalist was killed, while six were assassinated in 2013 alone.

Goala and al-Dulaimy were local journalists, not foreign correspondents in countries in conflict. According to the report, for which an executive summary is available, 94 percent of the victims have been journalists who reported on local affairs. These two journalists were also men, as were 94 percent of those who have died, although the report also highlights specific risks faced by women, including harassment and sexual assault.

Nearly nine years on, the investigation into Goala’s death has been inconclusive. The same applies to another 171 cases. During the presentation of the report, UNESCO Deputy Director-General Getachew Engida noted that 29 percent of the investigations documented by UNESCO in the last eight years remain open.

With respect to al-Dulaimy, nothing is known. It is not known whether his death was or is being investigated since UNESCO has not received any information from the Iraqi government regarding an inquiry into his case. This situation applies not only in al-Dulaimy’s case, but also in the cases of another 105 journalists killed in Iraq in the period covered by the report. In producing the report, the UN agency requests information from governments regarding the progress of investigations, but no information has been received in 382 of the 593 cases, 64 percent of the total. Only 39 cases, representing less than seven percent, have been resolved.

The danger of these figures, as noted by Engida, is that this “climate of impunity allows perpetrators to continue attacks without restraint.”

With respect to the low response rate by governments to UNESCO’s requests for information, the director-general, in an article recently published in the Mexican newspaper El Universal, stated, “This cannot go on. I wish to encourage all governments to better show their commitment to justice for killed journalists by responding to requests to voluntarily report on what is happening with judicial follow-up.”

Source: Silvia Chocarro Marcesse, IFEX network. 

By Staff| December 16, 2014
Categories:  News

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