IMPUNITY IS alarmingly widespread.
A total of 55 journalists and media professionals were killed in the year just past, with nearly nine in 10 killings since 2006 still unresolved. So reported the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
“Once again in 2021, far too many journalists paid the ultimate price to bring truth to light,” said UNESCO director-general Audrey Azoulay. “Right now, the world needs independent, factual information more than ever. We must do more to ensure that those who work tirelessly to provide this can do so without fear.”
While the number of fatalities is the lowest in a decade, UNESCO noted as in previous years, journalists faced high rates of imprisonment, intimidation and harassment, including when reporting on protests.
Women journalists continue to be particularly at risk as they are subjected to “a shocking prevalence of harassment online,” UNESCO said citing data that showed. that nearly three-quarters of female media professionals surveyed had experienced online violence linked to their work.
The UNESCO Observatory of Killed Journalists said two-thirds of victims in 2021 died in countries where there is no armed conflict. This marks a complete reversal of the situation in 2013, when two-thirds of killings took place in countries experiencing conflict.
Most deaths in 2021 occurred in just two regions, Asia-Pacific – with 23 killings, and Latin America and the Caribbean – with 14.
UNESCO has a global mandate to ensure freedom of expression and the safety of journalists worldwide. Every time a journalist or media professional is killed, the agency systematically urges authorities to conduct a full investigation.
The agency also coordinates the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity which marks its 10th anniversary in 2022. It also provides training for journalists and judicial actors, works with governments to develop supportive policies and laws and raises global awareness through events such as World Press Freedom Day, commemorated annually on 3 May.
Closer to home, meanwhile, it has been over a month since Pampanga journalist Jess Malabanan was murdered in cold blood in Samar, and his killers are still at large, unidentified. With UN Report