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Making governments care about impunity

This year, IFEX urged governments to demonstrate a political will towards reducing impunity worldwide. Encouraged by responses from certain officials, the network’s next task will be to strengthen and broaden this commitment

Representatives of six UN Permanent Missions held an interactive panel discussion about impunity for crimes against journalist in New York City on 3 November
Representatives of six UN Permanent Missions held an interactive panel discussion about impunity for crimes against journalist in New York City on 3 November

Permanent Mission of Greece to the United Nations, via Facebook

IFEX's lobbying activities in 2014 End Impunity campaign inspired a number of interesting responses from governments and Permanent Missions to the United Nations. Many countries acknowledged the first International Day to End Impunity on 2 November through official statements, events, and social media responses.

The first International Day to End Impunity over social media
In his official statement, President Barack Obama demanded accountability for those who have committed crimes against journalists:

The Ambassador of the Dutch Permanent Mission at the UN shared with IFEX the official statement from his foreign minister:

The Liechtenstein UN Mission called on all governments to do more to address impunity:

The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development shared his views about the importance of the day and the consequences of killing journalists:

The German UN Mission joined voices with the Secretary General and called on governments to stand up for justice:

The world's eyes on impunity

IFEX's call for state officials to show a proactive commitment to addressing impunity was not lost on UN Permanent Missions.

Efforts by the IFEX network to challenge system impunity were officially acknowledged at a UN high-level and interactive panel discussion on 3 November, where the 2014 IFEX campaign trailer was screened.

IFEX also received the following recognition from panel Chair George Papagiannis, Programme Specialist, External Relations & Information Officer with UNESCO New York, before screening the 2014 campaign trailer.

"(IFEX is) well-known to many for its leadership in the space for freedom of expression, (and it is) among one of the first organisations to mobilize around the issue of impunity. IFEX is doing a good deal to raise awareness through its vast network of local media support and advocacy groups and also through social media."

Permanent Missions representatives were active and enthusiastic during the event.

In his opening remarks, the Permanent Representative of Greece to the UN, Ambassador Michel Spinellis, identified the international community's responsibility to take action: "All these heinous crimes should function as a catalyst in order to strengthen the international community's resolve to do whatever is necessary to bring the perpetrators to justice."

Meanwhile, the Spanish UN Mission was among the various groups who live tweeted the panel:

Afghanistan vows to end impunity against journalists
One of the most encouraging developments in this year's campaign took place when government officials in Afghanistan, including the Chief Executive Officer of the National Unity Government and Vice-President, acknowledged the significance of 2 November and the national campaign run by IFEX local member Afghanistan Journalists Center (AFJC).

"There is an apparent political will for addressing the impunity issue,” said AFJC president Ahmad Quraishi, who also called for concrete steps in 2015. “However, we need to see some practical steps taken by government to investigate the dossiers of the media-related victims. We will continue to advocate for this to ensure the new government fulfills its promises."

What the New Year will bring
With the UN International Day to End Impunity officially in place on 2 November, there is now a clear annual opportunity for global civil society and proactive governments to shine a spotlight on the need to improve protections for journalists. The key, however, will be to turn this goodwill into concrete steps.

This is no small task for free expression advocates. But it is a challenge that, based on 2014's successes, IFEX members are more than ready to take on in 2015.

Did you find this article interesting? There is more!
Make sure to consult the following short pieces to get the broad picture about this year's impunity campaign

  • To read more on how the Philippine authorities responded to our Tweet for Justice campaign commemorating the fifth year anniversary of the Ampatuan Massacre, click here.
  • For the big picture of how IFEX members have lobbied their governments during the campaign, and what other activities they organised, check out this Storify.
  • What's next? IFEX is looking ahead for the years to come and will identify ways for the network to keep advancing the global fight against impunity.

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