IFJ Launches New Campaign in Iraq, Pakistan and Russia to End Impunity for Violence in Journalism

With International Day against Impunity one month away, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has today written to the leaders of Iraq, Russia and Pakistan to urge them and their governments to address the issue of impunity for violence against journalists in their countries.

The letters mark the launch of the IFJ’s new high profile campaign to ‘End Impunity’ which is urging the authorities of the countries with the highest death tolls of journalists to investigate these killings and bring their perpetrators to justice. The campaign is initially focusing on Iraq, Pakistan and Russia.

Signed by IFJ President, Jim Boumelha, and General Secretary, Beth Costa, the letters express the IFJ’s concern about the lack of accountability for those who carry out acts of violence against journalists. They urge the leaders and their governments to do everything in their power to resolve all the cases of killed journalists in their countries and to punish all those connected to killings of media professionals.

Specific cases of killed journalists which remain unsolved in the countries are highlighted in the letters, including the cases of Pakistani reporter Wali Khan Babar, who was killed in 2011 in a seemingly targeted attack by a political group, leading Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who was killed in 2007 at her blocks of flats, and former President of the Iraqi Journalists’ Syndicate Shihab al-Timimi, who was gunned down in 2008.

“We hope that you will give due consideration to our request and we look forward to seeing positive reaction by your government in addressing the state of impunity for violence against journalists, which is an issue of the highest importance for the rule of law and respect for human rights in any democratic society,” say the letters.

As a sign of unity and solidarity, the IFJ is calling on its affiliates across the world to send similar letters to the embassies of the three countries in their regions, or directly to the governments of the three countries. The campaign follows the resolution adopted by the IFJ World Congress in Dublin calling for a new strategy to mobilise support against the impunity for violence targeting journalists.

To print off or download a copy of the each of the letters, go to: http://www.ifj.org/en/pages/end-impunity

It is hoped that the IFJ’s new campaign to ‘End Impunity’ will make a lasting difference in addressing the issue of impunity for killings of journalists around the world, starting in Iraq, Russian and Pakistan.

•In Iraq, at least 300 journalists have been killed since the US invasion in 2003. While the levels of killings have receded in recent years from their peak in mid 2000s and the country has gradually returned to normality under the control of the central government, not a single case of journalists’ killings has been investigated to identify and punish the killers.

•In Russia, it is estimated that at least 124 journalists and media workers have died in work related killings since 1991. While the authorities initiated investigations in some cases, these have been few and far between and led to even fewer convictions of journalists’ killers

•In Pakistan, the highest journalists’ death tolls were recorded for two years running in 2010 and 2011, with 16 and 11 killed respectively. While the authorities initiated investigations in some cases, there have been no arrests or prosecutions against the perpetrators of these crimes.

Over the next few months the IFJ will be calling on the governments in the three countries to investigate cases of impunity by sending letters, using social media, issuing statements, running protests and events and highlighting specific cases.

And the IFJ is also asking its affiliates to do the same and undertake their own actions. The Information Page for the ‘End Impunity’ campaign contains a range of information and guidance for journalists and affiliates.

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