Political leaders must end demonization of journalists

International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against
Journalists – Thursday 2 November

Political leaders must
end demonization of journalists to stop increased attacks
– UN experts

Geneva (1 November 2017) – The world
is witnessing a “downward spiral of attacks” on
journalists, spurred on by hate speech even from senior
politicians, two UN experts have warned. Speaking ahead of 2
November, which has been designated International Day to End
Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, the Special
Rapporteurs on arbitrary, summary and extrajudicial
executions, Agnes Callamard, and on freedom of expression,
David Kaye, called on States to act:

“So far this year,
the world has lost more than 30 journalists to targeted
attacks. In addition to taking individual lives and
depriving family members of their loved ones, these attacks
aim to destroy the public watchdog role of journalism that
is essential to democratic society.

The attacks on
journalism are widespread and deplorable. Assaults on
investigative reporters, including independent journalists,
freelancers and bloggers, undermine official accountability
and help entrench corruption and other abuses of power.

When authorities fail to follow up such attacks with
independent and impartial investigations that can bring
perpetrators to justice, the killers and their allies
achieve their objectives.

The attacks need to stop. So
too does the public demonization of reporting and specific
media outlets and reporters by political leaders at the
highest levels.

Whipping up anger and distrust, or
redefining journalism as a crime akin to terrorism, are
steps on the path to physical attack. The end of impunity
begins with a commitment at the most senior levels to stop
the hateful rhetoric, end detentions and prosecutions of
journalists, and take steps to bring all attackers to

Our societies cannot afford to continue this
downward spiral of attacks against journalists. We urge all
States – in word and action – to devote resources to
reverse this trend.”


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