"Impunity attracts more attacks against journalists" - William Horsley, VP Association of European Journalists | Eurasia Diary - ednews.net

23 February, Saturday


"Impunity attracts more attacks against journalists" - William Horsley, VP Association of European Journalists

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William Horsley is a Vice President of Association of European Journalists (independent professional network), International director of Center for Freedom of the Media (CFOM), University of Sheffield UK and former BBC foreign correspondent in Europe and Asia (1983-2007). 

William Horsley talked to exclusively Eurasia Diary regarding the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.

Eurasia Diary: Please, tell me first of all about this International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists. What is the importance of this day?

William Horsley: This reflects the fact that more than 800 journalists were targeted and killed for their work over the last 10 years according to the UNESCO. This is becoming something emergency not just journalistic profession in many parts of the world and also international community as whole. It threatens the democracy and threatens government openness. Above this issue impunity in 9 out of 10 of all the cases there is impunity for the killers because the governments of the states concerned failed to conduct effective investigations leading to prosecutions of the perpetrators.

The day was chosen in commemoration of the assassination of two French journalists in Mali on 2 November 2013 and this day declared by the UN General Assembly three years ago. This impunity attracted more attacks against journalists. Through this day journalists and others can focus their efforts to achieve judicial independence.

Eurasia Diary: Through which mechanism we can reduce this impunity of these crimes against the journalists?

William Horsley:  A lot of things being done in individual countries and press freedom organizations, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and media organizations work effectively. They do kind of battle for survival and the picture is very different around the world. There are more than 20 separate events are being held to honor killed journalists and to mark the Day against Impunity in different countries. The main mechanism from UN side is the publication of all the reports by UNESCO Director General and summary of all killings, analyses of killing and judicial follow ups to do investigations on prosecutions and the picture shows that there are a lot of cases in Arab, also Asia and in Pakistan and another country and Philippine in central America and even south America and even attack in Paris which 8 journalists in Charlie Hebdo newspaper killed last year. But this is becoming global phenomenon and extremely dangerous for not only journalists but it is also bad for all the societies.

Eurasia Diary: What are the worst countries in the world according to your own analyses and observations against the journalist crimes?

William Horsley: On the top of the list is for last 10 years in countries particularly Syria and Iraq and also and there is an outstanding example such as Philippine there was a single case in 2009 more than 30 journalists were massacred and about 30 other people in a politically motivated massacre. We also have situation in Central America where Columbia used to be the death of journalists within the country. In Pakistan is another state and stands like about 100 journalists killed. Members of UN ,70 countries around the world and the latest figures published by UNESCO on their website show that the response rates by governments to UNESCO’s inquiries are getting slightly better. However, the overall picture is desperate and poor, many states responded the reports that there is no progress and investigations over many years. In addition to the approaches of UNESCO, eight separate resolutions in UN Security Council and General Assembly and Human Rights Council, all this focus safety of journalist ensure definitely which demonstrate that I think many countries have accepted it, this is jump for democracy and open government.

Eurasia Diary: What are the special commitment and dedication you would like to make?

William Horsley: Of course the main message has to go to the governments of the countries concerned extremely important that this day is used to raise awareness. It doesn’t matter every brunch of government of course not only executives and political leaders but also some figures in the judiciary. Because judiciary is part of the problem they may be responsible for covering up these crimes and analyzing society over criminal element and it becomes important holding government to account to population to know about reality because it exposes fear, corruption, and the end of any chances of democracy and also but the first state authorities have to mobilize and press governmental authority had to do investigations. Second massage will be I think to both civil society organizations to expose and investigate the situation even though the riskiest things. The United Nations as a whole all the member states of UN have signed Sustainable Development Goals and one of them is key goal and target is for free access to information and access to justice for all one of the basic measuring matter is according to the UN, the number of journalist to get attracted at the level of the impunity stays concern. This is global problem that has to be addressed everywhere with human tolerance.

Eurasia Diary: Recent example towards in the united states Amy Goodman while covering the North Dakota pipeline protest she was victimized, targeted even harassed and treated very roughly by the Law enforcement agencies, how do you see this example especially coming from the US, how do you see this?

William Horsley:  I am not able to go into details of that particular case. But this issue of impunity and violence against the journalist in western countries not manifested widely it turns to imprisonment, injury and so on. There is a much wider discrimination and oppression in other countries which is leading to censorship. As an international cooperative effort UN, Human Rights Community and High Commissioner on Human Rights in Geneva and especially UN become highly active on this issue right now. It is important that people in the world on this day take efforts about the damaged made done in many society by this violence and impunity surrounded the journalist and working journalist over the world and try to eliminate this problem.

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