“Ethical and Safe journalism: a Key to Democracy”. This was the topic of a side event staged in the UN this week, hosted by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, and supported by Norway.
The meeting focused on new initiatives and actions to counter violence against journalists, by reinforcing the quality and standards of journalism and helping to build trust in the media in societies.
"This will strengthen support for actions to enhance pluralism and isolate those who turn to violence to silence dissident voices," said General Secretary Aidan White of the IFJ.
The side event preceded a report issued by Special Rapporteur Frank William La Rue. This report focuses on violence used against the media and independent journalism in different regions around the world.
La Rue’s report shows that these risks are not limited to conflict areas; many journalists also risk their lives covering stories on organized crime, drug trafficking or human rights violations. In addition, impunity continues to deny justice to the victims of violence and is an obstacle to democratic development.
"We need the journalists as watchdogs, ensuring transparency and accountability," the Special Rapporteur underlined.
According to his report, perpetrators have enjoyed total impunity in 94 per cent of the cases in which journalists were murdered in 2009. In many countries, impunity or lack of investigation of the acts committed is still the norm when journalists are killed at work.
In his report, the Special Rapporteur mentions some of the most dangerous countries to work in as a journalist. Last year, the Philippines, Somalia, Iraq, Pakistan, Mexico and the Russian Federation had the highest number of journalists killed.