Protect journalists, protect the truth: a brochure for the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists: including highlights of the UNESCO Director-General's report on the safety of journalists and the danger of impunity

4 November 2020

New statistics published by UNESCO ahead of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, 2 November, show a 14% decline in the killing of journalists in 2018-2019 compared with the previous two-year period.

The new data are set out in the UNESCO Director-General's Report on the Safety of Journalists and the Danger of Impunity, and also show that the level of impunity for crimes against journalists is still extremely high with almost nine in ten cases remaining unpunished.

Although the number of journalists killed around the world has declined, far too many are still paying the ultimate price for their reporting. We remain deeply concerned about the increasing risks faced by media workers outside of conflict settings, and persisting impunity for these attacks. To preserve the fundamental right to freedom of expression and ensure public access to reliable information, reporters must be able to carry out their work in free and safe conditions while those who perpetrate crimes against them must systematically be brought to justice.

- Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director-General

According to the report, in 2018-2019, UNESCO recorded a total of 156 killings of journalists worldwide. Fifty-seven of them occurred in 2019, the lowest annual total in ten years.

The figures show that while journalist killings in countries experiencing armed conflict have declined significantly, this has not been the case in countries free of armed conflict. These countries registered the highest number of journalist killings in several years. This suggests a worrying trend whereby most journalists are now killed outside of armed conflict zones for covering corruption, human rights violations, environmental crimes, trafficking, and political wrongdoing.

The report also notes that journalism remains a dangerous profession whose practitioners face many types of threats, violence and harassment. Female journalists are particularly targeted by offline and online gender-based attacks that range from harassment, trolling and doxxing to physical and sexual assault.

While one journalist was killed somewhere in the world every four days over the past decade, impunity for these crimes still prevails. As of this year, 13% of these cases worldwide were reported by UN Member States to have been resolved with a judicial process brought to completion. This represents a slight improvement, compared to 12% in 2019 and 11% in 2018.

The highest number of fatal attacks in 2018-2019 occurred in the Latin America and the Caribbean Region, representing 31% of the total journalists killings registered worldwide, followed by the Asia Pacific Region with 30% of killings.

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