(IFEX) - 23 November 2010 - IFEX stands with its members in remembering the 32 journalists and media workers who, while participating in an election convoy, were brutally murdered in a massacre of more than 50 people in Maguindanao in the southern Philippines on 23 November 2009, one year ago today. It was the world's single biggest act of violence committed against journalists in recent history.
With little progress made to bring the perpetrators of this atrocious crime to justice, IFEX strongly supports its members working in the Philippines as they continue to fight for justice for victims and their families, the right to freedom of expression and an end to impunity in the country.
The culture of impunity is not confined to the Philippines alone. With the large number of targeted killings of journalists and media workers globally every year, IFEX members around the world advocate to ensure crimes against journalists are investigated and prosecuted to the fullest degree. It is only then that others can have the confidence to carry out their work without fear of being killed, imprisoned or harassed.
On this first anniversary, IFEX acknowledges the request of our colleagues in the Philippines to join them in spirit on this day of commemoration by calling for an end to impunity so that justice can be served. With this intention the following comments by IFEX members are shared:
"The massacre remains a cruel memory not only for the families who lost their loved ones but for the rest of the press community in the Philippines. One year later, a new government in the Philippines commits zealous efforts to bring the trial of the accused to a just verdict. The journalist community and advocates for press freedom renew their own resolve to be ever vigilant in their scrutiny of the trial and to continue the campaign to seek justice for journalist victims of the culture of impunity. We call on the rest of the world to join us in spirit on this day of commemoration." - Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, Philippines
"The Maguindanao massacre is not an incidental tragedy. One year on, journalists across the world are still being violently attacked for the reports they write." - ARTICLE 19: Global Campaign for Free Expression
"The Aquino government must seize the opportunity to demonstrate true leadership by showing the world attacks on journalists will not be tolerated and ensuring real justice will be metered out to those responsible for the heinous murders that still remain unpunished." - Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
"Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has rightfully said the Maguindanao case is a 'litmus test', but there is reasonable concern that the Philippines will never be able rise to the challenge. In the coming years, we cannot lose focus on the need for justice in this case, or on the needs of the victims' families." - Committee to Protect Journalists
"Democratic institutions suffer enormously when governments do not hold accountable those responsible for threats to journalists and others expressing peaceful political dissent, particularly violent acts such as those that have occurred in the Philippines." - Freedom House
"While we welcome that the trial of the Ampatuans is going forward, far too many of the suspects remain at large. President Aquino has to take further action to abolish abusive forces and pursue justice for serious abuses, rather than just making promises in this regard." - Human Rights Watch
"It was a shocking event for all of us here, not just for the scale of the brutality, but also because of the real risk at the time that the perpetrators might escape justice. It was inspiring to see IFEX colleagues from Asia and Europe working together so quickly to establish the facts on the ground, making a contribution to justice and challenging impunity." - Index on Censorship
"We will not rest until the battle to end impunity for the barbaric murders of our colleagues in the Philippines has been won. With the global community of journalists and press freedom activists, we will do our utmost to achieve justice." - International Federation of Journalists
"PEN International calls upon the Filipino authorities to take immediate action to ensure that all acts of violence against journalists are vigorously investigated and prosecuted so that those responsible are brought to justice and journalists are able to practice their profession without fear of attack." - Writers in Prison Committee, PEN International
"IPI is extremely concerned at the slow pace at which authorities in the Philippines have carried out investigations and their failure, one year after what is considered one of the greatest atrocities of the last century, to bring the perpetrators to justice." - International Press Institute
"By keeping alive the memory of the victims of this massacre, all press freedom organisations can help encourage profound changes in the Philippines. Together we say: 'Never again!'" - Reporters Without Borders
"SEAPA would like to call upon President Aquino to exert an all-out effort to expedite the trial of the suspected perpetrators and masterminds of this brutal crime and to ensure that key witnesses in these killings are fully protected against all forms of retribution and harassment." - Southeast Asian Press Alliance
"After the 23 November massacre, WAN-IFRA urged for an 'unprecedented' government response in a country with a long history of violence against journalists and civilians. Instead, the past year has brought multiple instances of intimidation, violence and flaws of all sorts and we are concerned that justice will not be served fully." - World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers
Click here to read the full text of IFEX member reflections:
IFEX_Member_comments.pdf (221 KB)
Along with our colleagues we will continue to monitor the situation in the Philippines.
IFEX is a network of more than 90 independent freedom of expression organisations worldwide.