62 journalists killed globally in 2020, just for doing their jobs: UNESCO Report

In 2020 alone, 62 journalists were killed just for doing their jobs, according to UN cultural agency UNESCO, which works to protect media workers. Between 2006 and 2020, more than 1,200 professionals lost their lives and in nine out of ten cases the killers go unpunished. 

Due to such statistics, this year the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists on Tuesday, November 2 is highlighting the important role of prosecutorial services, not only in bringing killers to justice, but also in prosecuting threats of violence against journalists.

UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, on Tuesday noted that many media workers had lost their lives while covering conflict, however, the number of journalists killed outside conflict zones, has increased in recent years. 

“In many countries, simply investigating corruption, trafficking, human rights violations or environmental issues puts journalists’ lives at risk”, António Guterres said.  

Countless other threats are also faced by journalists, ranging from kidnapping, torture and arbitrary detention, to disinformation campaigns and harassment, particularly in the digital sphere.  

“Crimes against journalists have an enormous impact on society as a whole, the UN chief said, adding, because they prevent people from making informed decisions.” 

“The COVID-19 pandemic, and the shadow pandemic of misinformation, has demonstrated that access to facts and science is literally a matter of life and death. When access to information is threatened, it sends a disturbing message that undermines democracy and the rule of law,” he said.

Women journalists are at particular risk, Guterres noted.

Global trends in online violence against women journalists, 73 percent of the female journalists surveyed, said they had been threatened, intimidated and insulted online in connection with their work, according to UNESCO’s recent paper, The Chilling.

The UN chief urged Member States to stand in solidarity with journalists across the globe, showing the political will needed to investigate and prosecute these crimes.  

Audrey Azoulay, the Director-General of UNESCO, also marked the ‘International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists’ with a message, quoting that, for too many journalists, “telling the truth comes at a price.” 

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