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27.08.2014 - Communication & Information Sector

Impunity issue is relevant to the Post-2015 Development Agenda

Panellists discussing impunity: Prima Jesusa Quinsayas, Gayathry Venkiteswaran, Guy Berger, Yosep Adi Prasetyo and Jesper Hojberg. © UNESCO

Where journalists can be attacked without repercussions for the perpetrators, human rights and sustainable development are deeply damaged. This was the underlying theme amongst a panel of experts speaking at the Global Media Forum in Bali on Wednesday, 27 August, an event hosted by UNESCO and the Ministry of Communication and Information Technologies, Republic of Indonesia.

The panel took place in the context of the forthcoming International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists. Set for 2 November, this date has been proclaimed by the UN General Assembly.

Speaking about impunity, Indonesian Press Council member Mr Yosep Adi Prasetyo listed 11 still unresolved cases of killings of journalists in his country between 1986 and 2010. He urged the creation of a “Working Group Handling Violence against Journalists” and called for memoranda of understandings with police, attorney general, Supreme Court and the Witness and Victim Protection Agency.

Ms Prima Jesusa Quinsayas of the Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists reported that in her country there had been only 14 convictions for the killings of 145 journalists, adding that even so “none have involved the masterminds”.

She welcomed her government’s response to set up special task forces to tackle media murders, and called for quick response teams with private lawyers to help police investigators build strong cases against suspects.

Ms Gayethry Venkiteswaran, Head of the Southeast Asian Press Alliance, said there was a need to educate the region’s media about the impunity issue, such as through a journalism fellowship that SEAPA was operating this year.

The UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity was commended by Jesper Hojberg, Executive Director of International Media Support. “We need to emphasise strong national mechanisms to advance the Plan at country-level,” he said.

Director for Freedom of Expression and Media Development at UNESCO, Guy Berger, noted that the latest version of the draft Sustainable Development Goals of the Open Working Group highlighted three times the importance, for development, of the "rule of law”.

“Combined with references to ‘public access to information’ and ‘fundamental freedoms’, this provides a direct link to impunity as a development issue,” said Berger.

“UNESCO has indicators to measure progress in the fight against impunity, which show that this issue can be measured as part of the development process,” he added.

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