2, November 2016/ By The Brussels Times
In the past decade more than 800 journalists have been killed for reporting the news and bringing information to the public: on average one death every week. In nine out of ten cases the killers go unpunished. Impunity leads to more killings and is often a symptom of worsening conflict and the breakdown of law and judicial systems.
In a statement ahead of the international day, on 2 November 2016, to end impunity for crimes against journalists, the European Commission called on “all States, media companies, media professionals and all concerned parties to join efforts to end impunity.”
The international day was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2013 which proclaimed 2 November as the “International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists” (IDEI). The date was chosen in commemoration of the assassination of two French journalists in Mali on 2 November 2013.
“We attach the highest priority to the safety of journalists, bloggers and other media actors,” the European Commission states.
“We consistently oppose – in bilateral contacts with third countries as well as in multilateral and regional fora – any legislation, regulation or political pressure that limits freedom of expression and we take concrete steps to prevent and respond to attacks against journalists and bloggers.”
“The European Union also ensures that respect for freedom of expression is integrated in all our policies and development programmes. The continued acts of intimidation, pressure and violence against journalists that take place across the world have to end.”
“Free press and media pluralism are essential to a free, pluralistic and open society. Attacks against media and journalists are attacks against democracy.” The statement refers to the recent adoption by the UN Human Rights Council of a resolution on the safety of journalists as “a very positive step forward to ensure the safety of members of the media”.
To strengthen engagement for the promotion of media freedom and pluralism and the protection of journalists in the European Union, the Commission is organising its second Annual Colloquium (conference) on fundamental rights on the topic of “Media Pluralism and Democracy“ on 17 – 18 November in Brussels.
The Colloquium will bring together policy-makers, international organisations, NGOs, and media actors around the same table to discuss concrete and workable actions to improve the fundamental rights situation in the European Union, including on the protection of journalists. Testimonies will among others be given by the Ethical Journalism Network and Reporters without Borders.
Research shows that the freer the media is in a country, the more democratic it is. In a country with free media people has reliable information and bother to vote to hold their politicians accountable.
Key words: freedom, European Commission, Human Rights