TODAY -

Journalism is a public good and we must protect it

Vijay Garg *



Media and journalism are important for any vibrant democracy. With the progress in technology now things have moved beyond the traditional media or way of journalism. Digital media and web media and even social media have become more popular but at the same time there is importance of journalism which can bring many positive changes.

The trust on journalism has been down in recent times due to few individuals or organisations that brought bad names in the name of journalism. We should not forget that from 2016 to the end of 2020, 400 journalists were killed for their work or while on the job and globally 274 journalists were imprisoned in 2020, the highest yearly total in three decades.

Only 13 percent of cases recorded by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) since 2006 are currently considered judicially resolved and 73 percent of women journalists surveyed had experienced online violence in the course of their work.

Ending impunity for crimes against journalists is one of the most pressing issues to guarantee freedom of expression and access to information for all citizens. Between 2006 and 2020, over 1,200 journalists have been killed for reporting the news and bringing information to the public.

In nine out of ten cases the killers go unpunished, according to the UNESCO observatory of killed journalists. Impunity leads to more killings and is often a symptom of worsening conflict and the breakdown of law and judicial systems.

While killings are the most extreme form of media censorship, journalists are also subjected to countless threats - ranging from kidnapping, torture and other physical attacks to harassment, particularly in the digital sphere. Threats of violence and attacks against journalists, in particular, create a climate of fear for media professionals, impeding the free circulation of information, opinions and ideas for all citizens.

The United Nations Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity is the first concerted effort within the UN to address attacks and impunity of crimes against journalists, with a multi-stakeholder and holistic approach. It brings together UN bodies, national authorities, media, and civil society organizations.

Since the plan was adopted, the issue of safety of journalists has gained a higher visibility in the UN, as evidenced by the increasing number of declarations, resolutions and other normative texts, and the UN Secretary General's Call to Action for Human Rights. Protecting journalists is also part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Plan has also contributed to building international coalitions of governments and civil society and served to bring about changes on the ground, such as the creation of national safety mechanisms in at least 50 countries. The UN General Assembly proclaimed 2 November as the 'International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists' in General Assembly Resolution A/RES/68/163.

The Resolution urged Member States to implement definite measures countering the present culture of impurity. The date was chosen in commemoration of the assassination of two French journalists in Mali on 2 November 2013. This landmark resolution condemns all attacks and violence against journalists and media workers.

The UN's Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in his message said that "I urge Member States and the international community to stand in solidarity with journalists around the world today and every day, and to demonstrate the political will needed to investigate and prosecute crimes against journalists and media workers with the full force of the law."


* Vijay Garg wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on 17 November 2022.



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