General: On the International Day to End Impunity we must identify, expose and hold accountable those responsible for past crimes
On the International Day to End Impunity, a new report by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) says we must identify, expose and hold accountable those responsible for past crimes to prevent future crimes and protect journalists in the region. According to UNESCO, more than 1000 journalists have been murdered over the past 12 years, including the 37 journalists mentioned in this report from Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Palestine, Saudi Arabia and Syria, who have been killed with impunity. The International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists is just one way to fight for justice.
“They didn’t die in vain, the world now knows what is happening here” is what one Iraqi from Karbala said on the night he saw protesters being killed. Journalists and media activists, despite their vulnerability and the extreme risks they face, should be credited for empowering whole movements that are demanding rights by giving them a voice on the world stage. Journalists in the region have always been targeted by those in power, but especially when there is a popular movement which gains strength from the publicity it receives.
When Al-Sumaria, an Iraqi TV channel, announced last month that only one day apart two of their journalists were injured in the recent protests, they also reflected on how many journalists on their channel alone have been targeted in the past years. Having journalists attacked, injured, kidnapped and killed does not seem to be the shocking exception but the way “things are.” Far from serving as protection, it seems carrying a camera or even wearing a vest marked PRESS can prove to be fatal. As we pass the one-year anniversary of the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi we realise that even in a case this high profile and prominent, no one has been held accountable, despite massive worldwide protests, including from United Nations experts.
“It is very hard to work on reports such as this one, mainly because we see little change. We covered cases that go back many years and remain to this day crimes in which no person, group or government has been held accountable,” said GCHR’s Journalism Protection Coordinator Zaynab Al-Khawaja, who wrote the report. “The facts covered in such reports should be enough to move the world into action against impunity. To get justice for those who have been killed, to protect the ones who remain, that is the only way forward.” This is the reason that the UN General Assembly passed a resolution in 2013 designating 02 November as the International Day to End Impunity ever year.
The report includes recommendations to combat impunity. Support for the report was provided by IFEX, of which GCHR is a member. It will be published online in English and Arabic.
Click HERE to Download the English report.