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IFEX launches 2012 Day to End Impunity campaign

The case of Belarussian journalist Iryna Khalip was the first to be profiled during the 2012 campaign
The case of Belarussian journalist Iryna Khalip was the first to be profiled during the 2012 campaign

Allan De Los Angeles

(IFEX) - 1 November 2012

im•pu•ni•ty
n. without punishment, without consequences

IFEX, the global network defending and promoting free expression, is proud to announce the launch of International Day to End Impunity. Created by IFEX in 2011, the day is a call to action — to demand justice for those who have been targeted for exercising their right to freedom of expression, and to shed light on the issue of impunity.

Each year, on 23 November, we draw the world's attention to the reality that while countless citizens, artists, bloggers, musicians and journalists are harassed, threatened, tortured, intimidated, jailed and worse in an attempt to silence them, most crimes against free expression go unpunished.

When those who commit these crimes are not brought to justice, it creates a culture of impunity. More crimes against free expression take place. People are increasingly afraid to speak out. Criticism is stifled. Hard questions don't get asked. The powerful don't get challenged. The result is a world where free expression is silenced.

This day was chosen because it is the anniversary of the 2009 Ampatuan massacre, the single deadliest incident for journalists in recent history, in which 58 people — including 32 journalists and media workers — were murdered in the Philippines.

From 1 to 23 November, the campaign will feature an individual every day whose case could benefit from international attention. For each individual, we suggest an action that can be taken on their behalf.

On the first day of the campaign this year we feature Iryna Khalip, a journalist from Belarus. When covering a protest against the proposed reunification of Belarus with Russia, she witnessed her father, a documentary filmmaker, beaten unconscious. That incident only galvanized her to continue to expose corruption in Belarus as a journalist for the Minsk bureau of the investigative paper Novaya Gazeta (the paper of slain reporter Anna Politkovskaya.) So the threats and assaults continued.

In early 2011, Khalip spent a month and a half in jail and was given a two-year suspended sentence for her role in the protests against President Alexander Lukashenko's December 2012 re-election, widely viewed as rigged.

Today, Khalip is not allowed to travel and is banned from moving or leaving Minsk, and she is required to report to the police twice a week. Police visit her home sporadically, often in the middle of the night, traumatizing her and her five-year-old son.

People are invited to take action on her behalf by emailing a letter to President Alexander Lukashenko, directly from the site.

Visit http://www.daytoendimpunity.org to find out more about the campaign, and see what IFEX members and others around the globe are doing this November to end impunity.

We must all act together to stand up to this culture of impunity. We invite you to stand with us.
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