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Global journalists' community joins IFJ to mark memorial day for dead colleagues

(IFJ/IFEX) - 14 December 2011 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its European group, the European Federation of Journalist (EFJ), today expressed solidarity with Russian colleagues, as the Russian Union of Journalists (RUJ) prepares to host its annual commemoration of journalists who have died in the course of their work.

Each 15th December, the RUJ organises the Memorial Day events at the Moscow Journalists' house, the traditional home of Russian journalism, where family members of those who have been killed over the past two decades gather to remember the victims and recall the sacrifices made through their work.

"Few countries have suffered as many journalists' deaths as our colleagues in Russia, and few have done more to support the victims than our affiliate, the Russian Union of Journalists," said Jim Boumelha, IFJ President. "Journalists' unions across the world look to the RUJ's example of bringing comfort to the victims and hope that the perpetrators will be found."

The IFJ/EFJ has been working closely with the RUJ in its campaign to fight impunity and bring the perpetrators to justice. Following the murder of Anna Politkovskaya in 2006 the level and causes of impunity were thoroughly examined and published in the joint report 'Partial Justice: an Investigation into the deaths of Russian Journalists 1993 – 2009' launched in June 2009. This has since been followed up with the launch of two databases. The first, http://journalists-in-russia.org records all deaths of journalists, the status of the investigations and whether they were killed for their work. The second, launched this year, http://mediaconflictsinrussia.org , records all non-fatal attacks on journalists.

These provide essential tools for campaigning against impunity, demonstrating the depth of the challenges faced and for holding the national and regional authorities to account when investigations fail.

This year, following the Memorial ceremony, the RUJ will be hosting a meeting of international campaign specialists to demonstrate the results of the joint impunity programme and exchange expertise on protecting journalists and bringing the killers to account.

"Impunity is the scourge of free journalism. Until those who kill, beat or maim journalists are brought to account, journalists will continue to work in a climate of fear," said Arne König, EFJ President.

The IFJ/EFJ further called for the members of the Moscow police force, who were responsible for the beatings of journalists during last week's demonstrations, to be held accountable for their actions.

"If those responsible for law and order remain unpunished for attacking journalists how can we expect them to guarantee the prosecution and punishment of criminal gangs who seek to silence journalists through violence?" added König.

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