Today (October 31, 2014), Southeast Asia Press Alliance (SEAPA) launches its annual regional campaign to tackle impunity for violence against journalists. Campaign activities, now on its fourth year 2011, will take place between the commemoration of two important occasions in the regional and global effort to ensure that media safety and security, and freedom of expression.
It will begin to mark the Global Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists media on 2 November, which was adopted through a resolution by the UN General Assembly on 18 December 2013. The campaign concludes on November 23, fifth anniversary of the Ampatuan massacre of 58 persons including 32 media workers in Philippines.
The November campaign is an attempt to draw attention to problem of impunity for violence against journalists not only in the region and but throughout the world. It underlines the need to decisively address through the cooperation of both the media and the state.
This year, six journalists have been killed in the line of duty in Southeast Asia. The Philippines remains as the most dangerous country in the region for journalists, with four journalists killed in 2014.
The latest killing occurred just last week in Burma, when Aung Kyaw Naing died after being in Army custody for three weeks. Aung Kyaw Naing, also known as Par Gyi was in Mon State, Southern Myanmar, covering fighting between the Burmese military and ethnic Karen rebels.
The campaign aims to raise awareness within the media community of the continuing culture of impunity among their ranks, as a major threat to press freedom, and toward drawing more concrete responses among stakeholders in the media community.
Public dialogues between the media and state authorities as well as media campaign activities will be organized around the region by SEAPA’s members and partners in Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines and Thailand, to address the specific characteristics of the impunity in each country.
SEAPA will prepare media information kits highlighting key trends in the region. SEAPA hopes to generate specific recommendations and concrete steps for both the media and the states to address impunity, and provide safe environment for the media.
ANNEX: Fact sheet on violence against journalists and impunity between 2006-2013*
According to UNESCO, 593 journalists were killed between 1 January 2006 to 31 December 2013
At the end of 2013, Arab region registered the highest number of killing of journalists, accounted for 190 (32 per cent) and followed by Asia and the Pacific region 179 (30 per cent).
Of the total, only 38 cases (6.4 per cent) have been resolved; 171 cases are ongoing investigation; and 384 cases have no further information.
Local, male and print journalists are the majority killed. Women face risk in their works such as sexual attacks and harassment, which is not reflected in the statistics of fatal attacks.
The highest number of killed journalists took place in 2012 with a sharp increase in deaths of social media producers of news, mainly due to the situation Syrian Arab Republic where many bloggers performed journalism task and report about situation in their home country which have very restrictive mainstream media environments.
In 2013, the number of journalists killed has decreased, although violent attacks remain constant.
In Southeast Asia, apart from the six recorded work-related killings of journalists, four in the Philippines and one each in Cambodia and Burma.
Ten incidents of violent attacks of journalists were also recorded throughout the region. Also there were eight incidents of threats of attacks against reporters.
Who are journalists?
Former UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression Frank la Rue stated in his 2012 report: “Journalists are individuals who observe and describe events, document and analyse events, statements, policies, and any propositions that can affect society, with the purpose of systematizing such information and gathering of facts and analyses to inform sectors of society or society as a whole.
For the purposes of the Journalists’ Safety Indicators developed by UNESCO, the term journalists covers media workers such as reporters and photojournalists, support staff and fixers, those active in community media and so-called citizen journalists – i.e. not all users of social media and digital outlets, but particularly those who use them to produce, curate or distribute significant volumes of public interest content.