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UN human rights experts have strongly urged states to take firm steps to ensure accountability for violence and attacks against journalists, reversing and resisting the appalling trend of impunity.
They made the call while speaking ahead of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists that falls on November 2.
“Journalists around the world face threats and attacks, often instigated by government officials, organised crime, or terrorist groups. Political leaders incite hostility by framing reporters as ‘enemies of the people’ or ‘terrorists’,” the statement reads.
The UN experts are David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Tae-Ung Baik (Vice Chair), Bernard Duhaime (Chair), Houria Es-Slami, Luciano Hazan, Henrikas Mickevicius, Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.
They said hundreds of journalists are detained or forcibly disappeared because of their journalist work, according to the statement received from Geneva.
“Governments conduct surveillance of journalists and undermine digital security as part of the daily attack on free and independent media. Press freedom organisations conservatively estimate that dozens of reporters have been killed this year alone.”
They said the states have not responded adequately to these crimes against journalists.
“Most recently, states and the international community, including the United Nations, have failed to address the enforced disappearance and murder of Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. The only way forward is to establish an independent, transparent and credible investigation into his murder, one authorised by and reporting to the United Nations. Anything short of a complete investigation, recognised as such by the international community, will make a mockery of government claims of commitment to the safety of journalists.”

As a matter of urgency, the experts called on all states to implement the international legal framework on safety of journalists.

They said the high-level commitments, such as the latest resolution on the safety of journalists adopted this year by the Human Rights Council, must be implemented.

“We call on all leaders worldwide to end their role in the incitement of hatred and violence against the media. These last weeks have demonstrated once again the toxic nature and outsized reach of political incitement against journalists, and we demand that it stop,” the statement reads.