International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists
02 November 2023
Message by the President of the UN General Assembly H.E. Mr. Dennis Francis
Today marks the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists – an occasion of profound gravity and significance.
Over the last 30 years, more than 1600 journalists have been killed while doing their job to keep us informed – with 117 of the killings taking place between 2020 and 2021.
As we speak, many more are risking their lives in dangerous conflict zones in Africa, Ukraine, Gaza and elsewhere.
Press safety and freedom are vital prerequisites for ensuring unrestricted expression and access to verified, accurate information for all.
Journalists and media workers – the eyes, ears, and voices of societies worldwide – must not be harassed, threatened, or killed for supporting the truth.
With this in mind, I welcome the United Nations’ Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, as well as the increased attention brought by Member States to this critical issue.
Ensuring the safety of journalists and media workers is critical to the safeguarding of entire societies – maintaining their cohesion, and combatting the concealment of human rights abuses, corruption and crime.
We must recognize that these trends and acts of violence do not occur in isolation.
Marginalised communities face intersectional challenges that impede their work and compromise their safety.
Online, one of the most targeted groups is sadly, but unsurprisingly, women.
A staggering 73 percent of the women journalists surveyed by UNESCO courageously reported experiencing online threats, intimidation, and insults.
In the virtual realm, individuals indiscriminately unleash anonymous abuse upon journalists – all too often escaping accountability with alarming impunity.
Indeed, only 14 percent of cases of crimes against journalists are currently considered judicially resolved.
As I mentioned, the war in Ukraine and recent tragic events in the Middle East have resulted in a growing toll on journalists and media workers’ lives, leaving many others injured, missing, or detained.
Despite these grim realities, it is important to remember that we - as a global community - can make a difference.
Let us stand united and firm in our commitment to ending impunity for crimes against journalists and media workers.
Let this International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists serve as a reminder that when we protect the press, we safeguard the very essence of democracy and human rights.
Together, we can build a world where journalism flourishes without fear, where the voices of the marginalized are heard, and where the unvarnished truth shines through and overpowers the darkness of misinformation.
Thank you and let us continue this essential work for renewed dedication and hope.