November 2 is the observance of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists.

UNESCO reports that already this year, over 70 journalists were killed. 9 out of 10 killings go unpunished. 

“Impunity for crimes against journalists affects the core of our freedoms of expression and information. Silencing a journalist has consequences for everyone. We cannot turn a blind eye to impunity. We cannot let their deaths be invisible to society,” UNESCO stressed. 

UNESCO publishes its latest figures on the global impunity rate for journalists’ killings. Although this figure remains unacceptably high, it represents an 9 percentage points reduction in the rate of impunity since 2012 when the United Nations launched its Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists. (Read the report available in multiple languages here.) 

Key figures in the reports:

  • Of the 117 journalists killed in 2020-21, 91 or 78% were killed while off the clock, for example, at home, in their vehicles or in the street but not on specific assignment. Several were killed in front of family members, including their children.
  • The last year have also seen the number of killed women journalists rising from 6-11% of the total, a worrying trend continuing this year.
  • In the 2020-2021 period, 6 journalists were killed while covering protests, riots or demonstrations. This confirms the trend identified in the previous Director-General’s Report which noted a rise in the number of journalists killed in such contexts.

The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 2 November as the ‘International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists’ in its 70th plenary meeting in 2013. The date of the UN day marks the death of Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, two French journalists killed while reporting in Mali earlier that year. 

10th anniversary of the UN Plan of Action of the Safety of Journalists

Organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Austria, in cooperation with UNESCO and the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, a High-Level Conference will commemorate the 10th year of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and discuss the issue of impunity on November 3-4. Well-known journalists and freedom of expression activists will speak at the event, including Novaya Gazeta Editor-in-Chief and 2021 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dmitry Muratov and Colombian Journalist and UNESCO/Guillermo Cano Award Laureate Jineth Bedoya Lima. 

10 years of impact of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists are highlighted:

  • The 10th anniversary is a milestone to Reaffirm, Recommit and Reposition efforts to advance the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, the first concerted effort within the UN to address attacks and impunity of crimes against journalists.
  • 26 UN resolutions on safety of journalists adopted since 2012 by UN General Assembly, UNESCO General Conference and the Human Rights Council.
  • A network of UN Focal Points for the Safety of Journalists within UN agencies, funds and programmes and increased number of reports by the Special Rapporteurs on Freedom of Expression.
  • An International Coalition of Civil Society Organizations of Safety of Journalists, a Media Freedom Coalition of 50 countries, a Journalism Safety Research Network.
  • At least 50 National Protection Mechanisms for the safety of journalists established since 2012.
  • More than 24,000 judicial operators from 150 countries and more than 11,500 security forces from 160 countries trained on safety of journalists and freedom of expression. Over 500 lawyers trained in 30 countries and 1,000 cases of legal assistance provided to journalists.