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Permanent Mission of Greece to the United Nations arrow Newsarrow Side event on the occasion of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, Νew York, 2.11.2015: Intervention by the Permanent Representative of Greece, Ambassador Catherine Boura

Side event on the occasion of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, Νew York, 2.11.2015: Intervention by the Permanent Representative of Greece, Ambassador Catherine Boura

Tuesday, 03 November 2015

Side event on the occasion of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, Νew York, 2.11.2015: Intervention by the Permanent Representative of Greece, Ambassador Catherine Boura

Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Greece would like to thank UNESCO and Lithuania for co-hosting this event on the occasion of the second International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists. Both UNESCO and Lithuania have demonstrated strong leadership in promoting the issue of safety of journalists.

The proclamation, in 2013, by Resolution of the General Assembly, of the International Day on the “Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity”, marked a milestone in the global recognition of a major topic.

The growing number of journalists and media workers killed and their increased targeting has become an alarming trend over the past few years. Journalists fall victims of arbitrary detention, torture, extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearance. One in ten cases involving the killing of journalists is resolved, which equals almost complete impunity for perpetrators. In spite of Resolutions adopted, national legal frameworks strengthened and regional mechanisms established, implementation is still far from being considered satisfactory.

The killings of journalists at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris early this year, and the beheadings of journalists by terrorists in the Middle East,  highlight, in the most tragic way, the seriousness of the problem and remind us that much more needs to be done to create a safe and enabling environment for journalists. 

A crucial question to be addressed is how to secure the implementation of existing mechanisms. I look forward to listening to the views of the esteemed panelists with valuable expertise on the issue.

As a starting point of our today’s discussion, I would like to underline some elements which seem to play a defining role in determining progress on the safety of journalists.

First, I would stress the significance of the political will to protect journalists and media workers and to investigate and prosecute attacks against them. Impunity doesn’t thrive only in situations of armed conflict but also where there’s lack of political commitment. States should be ready not only to condemn but also to put the existing mechanisms into practice.

Second, journalists will always be particularly vulnerable in societies with a deficit in the rule of law. Abuse of power, corruption, as well as weak judicial and law enforcement institutions nurture a culture of pervasive impunity, especially for crimes against journalists and media workers. 

Third, it is only through a coordinated approach of all relevant stakeholders that we will manage to break the vicious circle of impunity which leads to further violations against journalist’s rights. In this respect, academia, civil society, as well as journalists themselves could lend their expertise to address existing gaps in law and in implementation.

Fourth, regional initiatives could add value in the efforts to promote innovative approaches for the protection of journalists. For example, the Council of Europe recently launched an Internet platform issuing alerts concerning threats to journalists and press freedom. Follow-up responses received from Members States will contribute to the efforts for timely action and prevention.

Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

The International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists should remind us of our duty to confront impunity and to concentrate our efforts in securing a safe environment which will guarantee freedom of speech and expression, as well as access to information for all.

Our challenge is to match the rise in awareness and the normative progress with results on the ground.

Every case of a journalist or media worker harassed, injured, arbitrarily detained or killed is an assault to freedom of expression and a threat to the foundations of open and democratic society.

Thank you for your attention.

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