Journalists, who not only portray before the eyes of readers the true facts happening around but shape opinions, too, from an impartial point of view, are called the mirror of society. Journalists wielding significant social influence therefore are referred to as the Fourth Estate of a country. Their 24-hour job to pull out the pearls from mere ashes all too often jeopardise their lives, and put their families, dependent on them, in the threat of destruction. Even then, the real journalists by sensing the looming danger ahead for them never run away. Yet, we cannot ignore whatsoever the torture, harassment, forced disappearance and killing of journalists worldwide. This is paradoxical when people’s right to information is emphasised globally and at the same time the people engaged in fetching information are not protected.
In just over a decade, some 1,010 journalists have been killed worldwide for reporting news, and in nine out of 10 cases, the perpetrators are never brought to justice. In 2018 alone, at least 88 journalists have been killed, according to the United Nations. Many thousands more have been attacked, harassed, detained or imprisoned on spurious charges, without due process. On the other hand, a study on global trends in media published by the UNESCO in 2017 highlights that impunity for crimes against journalists remains the norm, and trends in kidnappings, disappearances and torture have shown substantial increases since 2012.
The two latest incidents against the journalists were the imprisonment of two Reuters reporters by Myanmar government in August and the murder of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi last month. In Bangladesh, journalists were attacked in the capital by a group of miscreants in July this year while covering the student agitation demonstrated for safe roads. In the 1980s during the autocratic rule in the country, journalists were heavily attacked due to collection of and serving people with objective information. In the post-1990 democratic era too, repression on journalists never ended. In the context of similar incidents against journalists, their very safety issue has emerged as a serious concern.
Safe journalism is a right to every newsman. And all related to the sector should come forward to safeguard them. All through the world, objective journalism has got immense risks. If adequate preparations are not taken to protect the journalists working to collect sensitive information objective journalism will never reach its expected height. Ergo, it is inevitable to ensure justice for the journalists against torture and killing, for the development of the media industry.