General: Rights groups mark International Day to End Impunity in Beirut

03.11.20

On 02 November 2020, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and 15 other organisations (mentioned below), in cooperation with UNESCO’s Beirut office, held an event for the International Day to End Impunity in Beirut, Lebanon, where GCHR also launched its report “No to Impunity”.

Despite the difficult conditions this year, and the challenges that come with it, the 16 organisations and UNESCO held an event to commemorate the deaths of some of the journalists killed in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region in the past few years and to shed light on how impunity plays a role in this bloodshed and the targeting of journalists in general. The event consisted of a seminar and an exhibition of the photos of some of the journalists who have been killed across the MENA region, deemed one of the most dangerous areas for journalists to work in.

GCHR Executive Director Khalid Ibrahim, who moderated the event, spoke of “the hundreds of journalists that have been killed” but also about the many ways that journalists are targeted, specifically mentioning female journalists who find themselves targeted on more than one level. Other speakers in the event were Roula Mikhael, Executive Director of Maharat Foundation, who said, “We have worked at Maharat Foundation since our inception to demand a strengthened protection system for journalistic work and ensuring a safe and free environment.”

George Awad of UNESCO’s Beirut office said, “UNESCO celebrates the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists on 2 November each year, in order to raise awareness and support these measures.” Nedal Al-Salman, President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) and IFEX Convenor, said that “the pandemic should not put a stop to activities such as this one, that are of such great importance for our countries in which freedom of speech is stifled.”

Abeer Bader Yassin, a Yemeni journalist who also spoke at the event, echoed that sentiment and thanked the organisers for being committed to this important yearly event. She ended her talk with these words: “A journalist needs backing and support, for a journalist does not work for an institution or a specific media, but works for all people. A journalist’s job is to convey the truth and it is therefore in everyone’s interest to protect him. Even if we do disagree with a journalist, we must realise that he is not a military fighter, the response to someone whose only weapons are words is by using words, and not by targeting his life and taking away his freedom.”

After the conclusion of the seminar, the speakers and participants opened the Photo Exhibition which included the photos of some of the journalists killed in the MENA regions in recent years up to 2020. Those journalists are also featured in GCHR’s report that was released to mark the International Day to End Impunity, which can be downloaded here: https://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/2505.

 You can watch the event on GCHR’s YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uD9hDzd4KOw

GCHR would like to thank all the organisations who collaborated on or supported this event, namely UNESCO, IFEX, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Maharat Foundation, Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), ARTICLE 19, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), CIVICUS, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), International Media Support (IMS), Iraqi Network for Social Media (INSM), the Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights (IOHR), Media Association for Peace (MAP), Metro Center for Journalists' Rights and Advocacy, and the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA).