TOMORROW, journalists all over the world will come together to commemorate the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists. On this day, attention will be drawn to ‘the low global conviction rate for violent crimes against journalists and media workers, estimated at one in every ten cases.’
On this day too, organisations and individuals worldwide will play a vital role in informing, educating and influencing the public about important social issues.’ They will not only talk about the unresolved cases in their various countries, but also write to government and intra-governmental officials for justice.
The day, which was first established on November 23, by the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX), a worldwide network of civil society organizations charged primarily with the responsibility of defending and promoting the right to freedom of expression, is a day chosen to commemorate the 2009 Maguindanao massacre, popularly known as ‘Ampatuan massacre,’ the deadliest attack against journalists in recent time , in which more than 55 individuals were murdered, 32 journalists and media workers inclusive.
The day, which also marks the death of Claude Verlon and Ghislaine Dupont two French journalists murdered while reporting in Mali that year was first chosen in December 2013 after considerable lobbying from the day which was established by the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) members and other civil society defenders and lovers of freedom of expression. During the 70th plenary meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, resolution 68/163 was passed, recognizing the 2nd day of November as the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalist a launch date for other reports, events and other advocacy initiatives relating to the problem of impunity for crimes against freedom of expression.
In a statement issued by the Chief-Executive-Officer, World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, (WAN-IFRA) Vincent Peyrègne,( an association whose focus is to protect the rights of journalists across the world) UNESCO with the backup of WAN-IFRA has launched a new campaign, themed TRUTH NEVER DIES to preach the message that killing of journalists does not in any way silence the truth.
While emphasizing the relevance of the celebration, Vincent condemned the increase of impunity against journalist, stating among other things that it deprives one the right to be informed.
“Attacks on journalists worldwide are becoming more common, undermining the media’s role and creating opportunities for government overreach, the erosion of press freedom, and impeding our right to be informed. We are seeing a climate of impunity set itself up in many more countries than we have seen before. The vast majority of perpetrators of these killings and attacks are almost never brought to justice: In nine out of ten cases, journalist murders go unpunished. This fuels a cycle of violence and fear that protects and emboldens criminals, while undermining the role of journalism in society. The international community must stand up and take any action that is necessary at any level to reveal the truth about the perpetrators of the attacks and murders of journalists.”
He disclosed that globally, at least 45 journalists have been killed this year …as a result of their work, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. That number is outpacing last year and does not include 17 other deaths in which the motive has not been confirmed. Reporters without Borders put the figures for 2018 slightly higher and say that more journalists have been killed in connection to their work in the first nine months of 2018 than in all of 2017.”
While commenting on the Danger of Impunity against journalists, the chairman, Nigerian Union of Journalist Anambra State Chapter, Mr Emmanuel Ifesinachi, disclosed the arrangements of the Nigerian Union of Journalist Anambra State Chapter to mark this day . According to him, modalities are being put in place to celebrate this day, theme: “TRUTH NEVER DIES”. To mark this year’s ceremony, the Union will join the Federal Ministry of Information to fight against hate speech and fake news…” For long, we have always tried to ensure that our journalists comport themselves ethically.
Though NUJ Anambra State chapter has not recorded any case of killing of any of her journalists, they have still witnessed impunity and challenges, this is evident in the attack and manhandling of NUJ members and the non-payment and underpayment of staff in the state.
“In the recent past, some NUJ members have been attacked and manhandled, with some of our equipment damaged beyond repair,” he said.
Moreover, apart from the above mentioned challenges, another challenge faced by the journalist is failure of society to understand and appreciate the importance of media.
According to him, “ media is the oxygen of democracy. But society has failed to understand and appreciate the essence its essence. As a result, journalists are not given the needed corporations and assistance to carry out their responsibilities.”
In his own contribution, the Secretary General, Nigerian Union of Journalists, Anambra State Chapter, Mr Emmanuel Udeagha disclosed the vision of the incumbent government to takes the Union to a greater height.
According to him, the incumbent NUJ government have among other achievements worked for professionalism in line with the code of ethics of the profession (journalism).
“The council, working with the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka (UNIZIK), has now established a program for the award of professional Diploma in journalism, and this has come to stay.” He said. He further disclosing their intention to check quackery in the profession; Train and retrain journalists on the ethics of the profession, adding that an untrained journalists is a danger to the society just like the quack medical doctor is a killer to the society’, assuring to take care of the welfare of the members and give a proper facelift to the Press Centre.
The year’s celebration will be an opportunity to remind NUJ that information dissemination should be a shared responsibility between the the government and the Union represented by journalists.
He appreciated the Government of Anambra State for her generous benefactor to the Union assuring that the Union will continue to promote the vision of the state government.