GCRL calls for a serious investigation into crimes against journalists and an end to impunity


GENEVA- The Geneva Council for Rights and  Liberties is concerned about the annual data on violence against journalists worldwide. In light of the latest statistics indicating the killing of 60 journalists and media workers during the year 2020 and at least 274 journalists behind bars, the council calls for the international community to intensify efforts to put an end to the violence against journalists and to provide protection for every journalist while exercising his profession. It also calls for a serious investigation into the circumstances of these crimes, accountability for those involved, and an end to the policy of impunity.
According to the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the largest international organization representing journalists, based in Brussels; 60 journalists and media workers were killed around the world in 2020, compared to 49 in 2019. The Committee to Protect Journalists confirmed that the number of imprisoned journalists worldwide rose to a record number during 2020. There are at least 274 journalists behind bars, until the first of last December and this number is the largest recorded by the Committee, since the early nineties.
As of 31 December 2020, the IFJ lists the Asia Pacific as the most dangerous region with 27 killings, followed by Latin America with 17 murders. The Middle East and Arab World posted 8 killings, followed by 6 in Africa, and 2 in Europe.
The list of the Arab world and the Middle East included victims of journalists from four Arab countries experiencing tensions and armed conflicts, which are Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Somalia.
In Syria, as a result of targeted attacks and accidental shootings, the following journalists were killed:
– Rashid Al-Bakir on October 26, 2020
– Hussein Khattab on December 12, 202
– Amjad Actalati on 04 February 2020
– Abdel Nasser Hadj Hamdan on February 20, 2020
In Iraq, for the same reasons, the following journalists were killed:
– Henry Rassul on August 12, 2020
– Ahmed Abdul Samad, Safaa Ghali, on January 10, 2020
In Yemen :
– Badeel Al-Brih on January 18, 202
–  Nabil Hasan al-Quaety on 02 June 2020
In Somalia, due to targeted attacks, bombs, and shootings, the following journalists were killed:
Saeed Yusuf Ali on 04 May 2020
Abdulwali Ali Hassan, on February 17, 2020
The Geneva Council expresses its regret for these horrific crimes of which dozens of journalists from all over the world were victims, and calls for a serious investigation into their circumstances, leading to the implementation of the principle of accountability and fairness, and an end to the policy of impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators of these crimes. And ensuring the protection and safety of journalists who paid the ultimate price for their work and commitment to conveying the truth, whether at the hands of security forces, criminal gangs, extremist groups, or as a result of sectarian violence.
GCRL warns that armed conflicts in some Arab countries, such as Syria, Yemen, Libya, and Iraq, have provided more space for the murders of journalists, and most alarmingly, these crimes remain without accountability with the prevalence of impunity. The Council considers that the crimes of murdering journalists, and harming their safety, whether through targeting with gunfire, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, and threats of all kinds are attempts to silence and suppress media freedom and freedom of expression, and to keep facts hidden from public opinion.
The Council stresses that press freedom and a  safe environment are, in all cases, an inherent right guaranteed under international human rights instruments, and it is a reflection of the democracy of countries and the transparency of their systems of government.
The Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties ( GCRL) states that the international community and the United Nations bears the responsibility to ensure the creation of more effective mechanisms to protect journalists and to provide a safe environment allow the free exercise of their profession, as well as to intervene in order to ensure a serious investigation and fair trials for those involved in the murders of journalists.

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