The United Nations General Assembly is expected to vote shortly on a draft resolution creating an International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists. The French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, told Radio France International that France had proposed to mark the UN Day on 2 November, the day on which two French reporters, Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, were murdered in Kidal, Mali, earlier this month.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), which has a long record in lobbying for international instruments to protect journalists, in particular the success in getting resolution 1738 adopted by the UN Security Council in December 2006, has worked on this initiative by mobilising its 180 affiliates in 134 countries to ensure that their governments help shape up and support the resolution.
“The establishment of the UN Day will be a recognition at the highest level of the UN of the safety crisis in media we have been highlighting for all these years,” said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. “The fact that the vote is happening shortly after events to mark the third year of the International Day to End Impunity shows that the issue of protecting journalists is firmly on the international policy agenda. We need to seize the moment and urge all governments to vote in favour of the UN Day.”
Since 2011, on 23 November each year, the IFJ and its affiliates organise events and actions to highlight the issue of impunity which remains the main contributing factor to violence against journalists. The Day, which was established by the General Meeting of IFEX in Beirut in 2011, was chosen in memory of the 32 journalists who were among over 52 people killed in the massacre of Maguindano province in the Philippines.
The IFJ has also launched its global ‘End Impunity’ campaign to urge the governments of countries where cases of journalists’ killings have remained unresolved to investigate them and bring the killers to justice.
The establishment of a UN Day would be an opportunity to measure action taken by Member States to implement numerous legal instruments which can make journalism safer for the benefit of media professional and society as a whole, says the IFJ.
“International human rights and humanitarian law imposes obligations on governments to protect the rights and freedoms of all citizens and to provide justice and remedies for their violations,” said Beth Costa, IFJ General Secretary.
“We hope the UN Day will provide an opportunity for UN Member States to celebrate progress made on fulfilling these obligations, rather than on self-congratulating for mere symbolic gestures which do not address the failure to implement their own laws.”