Statement on the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists – 1 November 2019
Ahead of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, eleven partner organisations of the Council of Europe Platform to Promote the Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists call on governments to ensure that crimes against journalists are not carried out with impunity.
Earlier this week, the case of courageous Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was moved to the Council of Europe’s category of journalists killed with impunity. The three men charged with her murder have yet to be brought to trial, while those who masterminded her assassination remain at large.
She is one of 36 journalists whose cases remain open on the Council of Europe Platform. As many as nine of the cases, including those of Dada Vujasinovic and eight Serbian and Albanian journalists, date back more than 20 years. The platform partners call for thorough investigations to be carried out with the aim of bringing those responsible for their deaths to justice.
At the same time, the undersigned partner organisations welcome the recent indictment of four suspects, including the alleged mastermind, of the murders of Slovak journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancee Martina Kusnirova. However, they emphasise that all those involved in the crime must be convicted in order to fully prevent impunity. Slovak authorities must investigate and take action against associated wrongdoing, including the mass surveillance of journalists prior to Kuciak’s murder, and take concrete steps to protect journalists’ safety in the future.
In the 2019 Annual Report of the Council of Europe Platform, the partner organisations expressed concern that “a climate of impunity has started to take hold in parts of Europe”. They said that “the swift completion of transparent and effective investigations and prosecutions leading to the punishment of all those found responsible […] is essential if public trust in states’ commitment to protecting the safety of journalists and the rule of law is to be restored.”
The partner organisations call on Council of Europe member states to fully implement the Committee of Ministers Recommendation on the protection of journalism and the safety of journalists and other media actors, which includes guidelines related to addressing impunity.
The Association of European Journalists’ Media Freedom Representative, William Horsley, said: “On behalf of our journalist colleagues who continue to experience physical, legal and employment threats aimed at intimidating them into silence, and whose access to justice in connexion with abuses against them by public officials and police is restricted or barred by a culture of impunity, we call on all European governments to take decisive action immediately to eradicate impunity and apply the criminal law against those who are responsible for it.
“The AEJ was an active member of the Council of Europe committee that drafted recommendation (2016)4. Today we remind states of their legal obligations to create a favourable environment for freedom of expression so that journalists can do their work without fear of reprisals or impunity. The Recommendation that you have yourselves adopted calls on all member states, as a matter of urgency and through all branches of State authorities, to implement the guidelines in that text, and ‘to review relevant domestic laws and practice and revise them as necessary to ensure their conformity with States’ obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights’”.
Index on Censorship
Association of European Journalists
Free Press Unlimited
Reporters sans Frontieres