Three leading press freedom groups have launched a tribunal in The Hague to hold governments accountable for journalists’ deaths.
Guy Berger, UNESCO’s Director for Freedom of Expression and Media Development, said that although the number of journalists killed has declined in the last 5 years, the impunity of those who killed has remained the same in the last 10 years: “Nine out of 10 cases have not been resolved.”
A new report by UNESCO suggests a staggering six journalists have been killed worldwide every month in the past five years.
A combination of increasing extreme political polarisation, advances in technology, and social media ‘bubbles’ were found to have led to a rise in the spread of hate speech, misogyny, and the global rise of fake news.
Justice for those journalists who have been killed or for their families is scarce, and they leave a gap in societies when their work is stopped: “We no longer have access to the stories they would have brought us,” Berger added.
Killed for speaking truth to power
Increasingly we are seeing journalists killed in non-conflict situations, “and they are being killed because they are reporting on wrongdoing or they are speaking truth to power.”
Berger remembered that officials, mafia, and the mobs attack journalists, but some world leaders can exacerbate the issue, “and this is being often fomented by hostile rhetoric against the press,” highlighted the UNESCO’s Director for Freedom of Expression and Media Development, before concluding with another worrying trend seeing recently:
“A massive increase of online attacks against journalists, especially women journalists. And guess what? There’s impunity for those attacks as well. In this case, the social media companies are not taking the necessary action to protect journalists from mob attacks online,” he explained.