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ARTICLE 19 calls for governments to act on crimes against journalists

2 Nov is the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists
90% of crimes against journalists and media workers go unpunished on average
82 journalists have been killed in 2018 to date

Mexican journalists take part in a protest to mark one month since the murder of their colleague Javier Valdez, in Mexico City, 15 June 2017
Mexican journalists take part in a protest to mark one month since the murder of their colleague Javier Valdez, in Mexico City, 15 June 2017

PEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images

This statement was originally published on article19.org on 1 November 2018.

International free speech organisation, ARTICLE 19 is calling on governments to take action over crimes against journalists, which largely go unpunished.

Executive Director Thomas Hughes said:

"Journalists around the world are assaulted and killed for exposing corruption, holding governments to account or simply expressing their opinions or beliefs. The perpetrators of these crimes largely go unpunished, whether they are state-sponsored actors, organised criminals or religious extremists.

"Today, we call for an end to violence against journalists but also an end to political rhetoric that denigrates the media, dehumanises journalists and makes the environment they work in more dangerous."

According to UNESCO, 82 journalists and media workers have been killed globally in 2018 to date. On average, 90% of crimes against journalists go unpunished. Journalists are also being silenced by other tactics, including the misuse of libel and counterterrorism laws, accusations of 'fake news' and online harassment.

Violence against journalism goes unpunished around the world but in certain countries highlight the extreme danger that media workers face:

MEXICO: In Mexico, virtually all crimes against journalists go unpunished. It is the most dangerous country in Latin America for journalists; 12 journalists were murdered in 2017 and a further 507 attacks took place. Of these, almost half directly or indirectly involved state actors. In 2017, Salvador Adame, director of Chanel 6tv, became the 24th journalist to be forcibly disappeared in Mexico since 2003.

TURKEY: After the attempted coup against President Erdogan's Government in 2016, the independent media has been decimated in Turkey. Currently, 174 journalists are in prison. ARTICLE 19 observed the trial Mehmet Altan and his brother Ahmet, who were accused of sending 'subliminal messages' via a television appearance before the attempted coup the first hearing. During the trial, their lawyers were expelled from hearings, they were denied the opportunity to see evidence used against them by the prosecutor and there were been different judges at each hearing - ultimately denying the defendants a fair trial.

KENYA: ARTICLE 19 has recorded 94 incidents of violations against journalists and media workers in Kenya from May 2017 to April 2018. Political instability exacerbated by Kenya's disputed elections in August 2017 saw mass protests met by excessive use of force by the police. This in turn was accompanied by scores of violations against journalists and media workers trying to report on political issues and the protests. Journalists have faced harassments and violent threats, media shutdowns and online censorship.

BANGLADESH: Many journalists and photojournalists have come under attack for covering protests in Bangladesh. Photographer and mediaworker, Shahidul Alam was arrested in August 2018 for an interview he gave to Aljazeera about road safety protests in Dhaka and for sharing a video of the protests on Facebook. Alam endured pre-trial detention where he was beaten in police custody for alleged violations under Bangladesh's controversial ICT Act. This law is incompatible with international standards and is frequently used by authorities against journalists, mediaworkers and activists to silence dissent.

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