UNESCO, UNDP decry impunity for crimes against journalists

Impunity for crimes against journalist remains a serious cause of concern despite a slight decrease in the rate of impunity.

Presenting key findings of the 2020 UNESCO Director General’s Report on the Safety of Journalists and the Danger of Impunity during a Capacity building workshop for Zambian media stakeholders, UNESCO Regional Advisor for Communication and Information, Al Amin Yususph said impunity for crimes against journalists must end.

Mr. Yusuph stated that in 2020 UNESCO sent a request for information to 63 States for killings registered between 2006 and 2019. The request concerned 992 out of the 1167 killings for which UNESCO records showed no evidence that the judicial cases had been resolved.

While impunity for crimes against journalists still prevails, the Report highlights a slight decrease in the rate of impunity, with Africa having fewer killings than the rest of the world. The Report shows that 57 journalists and media workers recorded to have been killed in 2019 is the lowest in the last decade. Up to the time of drafting the UNESCO DG’s Report at the end of September 2020, 39 journalists had been killed globally.

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Deputy Resident Representative, Roland Seri highlighted that journalists need protection from harassment, intimidation and any forms of censorship as enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Capacity building workshop on the Safety of journalist is part of a broader UNDP’s Programme on Democracy Strengthening in Zambia (2019-2022). This programme brings together UNESCO and UNDP, in collaboration with the Independent Broadcasting Authority of Zambia, and the Media Institute of Southern Africa to strengthen the capacity of the media in preparations for the 2021 Zambia elections. UNESCO’s support to the programme is extended through the UNESCO’s Multi Donor Programme on Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists. Other participating organizations include the BBC Media Action, the Zambia Human Rights Commission and Zambia Police Service.

Freedom of expression, safety of journalists, media workers and media development, are core to UNESCO’s constitutional mandate to advance “the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples, through all means of mass communication’’ and to promote “the free flow of ideas by word and image”.