A journalist is killed every 4 days, worldwide -UNESCO

Late John Gatluak, a journalist who was killed in Terrain Hotel - Juba/File Photo

Over the last eleven years, 930 journalists have been killed worldwide for bringing information to the public, UNESCO assistant director-general for communication and information has said in a statement.

In a statement sent to Eye Radio, Frank La Rue said on average, one journalist is murdered every four days.

“In more than nine out of ten cases, the killers go unpunished. Impunity often leads to more murders and can signal the breakdown of judicial systems, the rule of law and democracy,” La Rue said.

In South Sudan, 11 journalists have been killed since 2011.

This came as the world marked the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists on November 2, under the theme: “Abolish threatening sentiments towards Journalists because it triggers crimes against Journalists”

The date was chosen in commemoration of the assassination of two French journalists in Mali on 2nd November 2013.

The day draws attention to the low global conviction rate for violent crimes against journalists and media workers, estimated at only one in every ten cases.

As these individuals play a critical role in informing and influencing the public about important social issues, impunity for attacks against them has a particularly damaging impact, limiting public awareness and constructive debate.

As the United Nations agency in charge of fostering freedom of expression, UNESCO has been advocating for reinforcing the fight against impunity for crimes against journalists.

UNESCO is concerned that impunity damages the whole society by covering up serious human rights abuses, corruption, and crime.

“Governments, civil society, the media, and everyone concerned to uphold the rule of law are being asked to join in the global efforts to end impunity.”

It is in recognition of the far-reaching consequences of impunity, especially of crimes against journalists, that the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 68/163 at its 68th session in 2013 which proclaimed 2nd November as the ‘International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists’.

The Resolution urged the Member States to implement definite measures countering the present culture of impunity.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists’ 10th annual Global Impunity Index ranking countries where journalists are murdered and their killers go free, seven countries on this year’s index have been listed.

Every year since the index was launched a decade ago, Somalia remained the worst country for unsolved murders for the third year in a row.

This year, 12 countries were included in the ranking and once again topped the list, followed by Syrian, Iraq, and South Sudan as the worst countries where journalists are murdered and their killers go free.

South Sudan Human Rights Society for Advocacy condemns killings of journalists and calls on the world to end impunity for crimes against journalists in the world.

In a statement, the rights body stated that journalists are “mirrors which reflect the nature of any society, killing them by the repressive regimes and political organizations is equivalent to destroying the mirror and the voice of the society.”

SSHURSA calls on the world’s body; the United Nations and other responsible governments to strongly stand up and take tangible measures against harassment and killings of journalists.

It is the responsibility of every responsible state to end impunity for crimes against journalists.

It’s the United Nations should exert maximum pressure on all states including South Sudan which are hostile to the journalists.

Since independence in 2011, South Sudan has lost a number of journalists and writers, among whom including the following:

1. Musa Mohammed; killed on 25 January 2015. Worked with South Sudan Radio, Wau Western Bahr el Ghazal

2. Boutros Martin; killed on 25 January 2015. Worked with South Sudan Television, Western Bahr el Ghazal

3. Dalia Marko; killed on 25 January 2015. Worked with Raja Radio Station, Western Bahr el Ghazal

4. Randa George; killed on 25 January 2015. Worked with Raja Radio Station, Western Bahr el Ghazal

5. Adam Juma; killed on 25 January 2015. Worked with Raja Radio Station, Western Bahr el Ghazal

6. Isaiah Diing Abraham Chan Awuol; killed on 5 December 2012 in Juba. A writer and political commentator

7. Pow James Reath; killed on 20 May 2015 in Akobo County. Worked with Radio Tamazuj

8. Peter Julius Moi; killed on 19 August 2015 in Juba. Worked with Corporate Weekly Newspaper

9. Clement Lochio; was disappeared in Eastern Equatoria in August 2015. Worked before with Gurtong Trust

10. John Gatluak Manguet; killed on 11 July 2016, at Terrain hotel in Juba. Worked with the Community Internews Radio, Juba

11. Christopher Allen; killed on 26 August 2017 in Kaya town at South Sudan-Uganda borders. Allen was an American journalist who covered the events of the ongoing civil war in South Sudan.

SSHURSA calls on the world to hold South Sudan accountable for the murder of the above and other journalists who have disappeared in South Sudan.

“The right to life and dignity of every journalist and writer should be protected under collective responsibility to protect universal values of human rights,” it said.

Another civil society organization, Community Empowerment for Progress Organization, also calls for efforts to promote the culture of dialogue for sorting out a misunderstanding about the role of journalists.

CEPO says “impunity for crimes against Journalists is getting serious especially when globally political elites in the position of public office with power engaged in posing threats to journalists.”

It said in a statement that “this empowered individual will execute the threats posed by powerful political elites.”

On the other hand, CEPO called on journalists to “act professional and responsibly to avoid mistakes that empower some society elites for taking advantage of triggering crimes against journalists.”