Bangkok — Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) joins media community, rights advocates and development agencies around the world in marking today, November 2, as the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists. The commemoration is has been set by a United Nations general assembly resolution on 18 December 2013.
In recent years, different UN bodies – including UNESCO, General Assembly, Human Rights Council, and Security Council – have issued resolutions on highlighted the issues of impunity and media safety.
As an official commemoration, the Day to End impunity can now be leveraged to governments to take action on impunity for crimes against journalists and media workers, including killing, violence, intimidation and harassment.
Impunity is a serious problem in several Southeast Asian countries, particularly Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines, and Thailand.
The Philippines is ranked ranked fourth most dangerous country for journalists in 2015 by the Committee to Protect Journalists. It is the only country in the top 5 countries without a large-scale state of armed conflict.
Journalists in the other four countries, violence, intimidation and harassment normally in the course of their work.
As part of the growing international concern on the safety of journalists, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has called upon governments to submit progress reports on violence in the region.
In Southeast Asia, only Indonesia and the Philippines have submitted such reports and made these available to the public. By contrast, Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand have ignored the request from the UNESCO Director General.
The UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova’s message on Nov 2 urged states to take all the necessary measures – through legislation, protection mechanisms, and new adequate resources – to ensure that investigations and trials relating to crimes against journalists are undertaken.
She also calls upon all media stakeholders whether state authorities, journalists, media and rights advocates and the public to stand up on November 2 and demand that the rule of law is fully applied when journalists are attacked or killed in the line of duty.
In 2011, freedom of expression advocates around the world declared 23 November, as the International Day to End Impunity (IDEI) to draw attention to the rising toll of journalists killed on the job. Advocates chose the original IDEI date to mark the day of the 2009 massacre in Maguindanao, Philippines in which 58 people were killed including 32 journalists.
More resources on the global campaigns are available at www.ifex.org/noimpunity and www.unesco.org/new/en/safetyofjournalists