“International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists” on 2 November is a day of solidarity with journalists persecuted for exposing corruption or war crimes. The International Freedom of Expression Exchange, a global network that defend and promote the right to freedom of expression, began marking the annual day back in 2011 in response to “escalating threats against journalists & media freedom, failures to protect them, and failures to prosecute perpetrators.”
In an apparent gesture of support for the international journalists day, United Nations (UN) Secretary General Antonio Guterres tweeted, “We must end a common culture of impunity and enable journalists to do their essential work.”
"We must end a common culture of impunity and enable journalists to do their essential work."
— @antonioguterres on Wednesday's International Day to #EndImpunity for Crimes against Journalists. https://t.co/NC6a4oZ3zH pic.twitter.com/MvXGiiohhj
— United Nations (@UN) November 2, 2022
The UN’s official tweet caused indignation with some social media followers, who demanded the UN lead by example. One reply called out the UN’s silence on the Islamic Republic’s persecution of journalists that report on the mass protests sweeping the country:
“What about Iranian journalists “Niloofar Hamedi” who is now in regime prison being tortured and raped only because she reported on #Mahsa_Amini death in regime “hijab” police custody! Why UN is silent???” the follower said.
Iranian authorities have been ruthlessly targeting journalists as a wave of anti-government protests continue across the country. Journalists Niloofar Hamedi and Elahe Mohammadi were charged with “spying for the CIA” after reporting on the death of Jîna (Mahsa) Amini. The nationwide protests were triggered by the death of the 22-year-old Kurdish woman while in custody of Iran’s morality police on 16 September.
In Turkey this week, Kurdish-focussed press groups called on journalists, writers, intellectuals and press professional organisations to support arrested Kurdish journalists by joining the “One More News From You” campaign. Kurdish free press is routinely suppressed in Turkey by the state. Nine journalists from Kurdish-focussed Mezopotamya News and the all-women Jin News agency taken into custody on 25 October have been jailed. 65 journalists are imprisoned in Turkey according to the Media and Legal Studies Association.
Turkey recently adopted a ‘disinformation’ law, on 13 October, widely recognised to curtail freedom of speech and silence dissent in the country.
“The disinformation bill is expected to assist the governing alliance in silencing opposition parties and critical media coverage,” said Freedom House, a non-profit organisation that advocates human rights and democracy.
Meanwhile, users on Twitter continue to call for the release of WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange, who is held in a UK prison, fighting a US attempt to extradite him to face charges over releasing confidential state documents, including military records and classified diplomatic communications.
The Don’t Extradite Assange #Free Assange campaign on Twitter calls Assange “an essential piece in the history of #FreePress. His unique combination of skills and values created the much needed space for #truth to be shared with the public.”
Former United Nations Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, said, “Julian Assange is a victim of torture and inhuman treatment. This is a threat not just to Assange himself but to freedom of speech everywhere in the world.”
The US have yet to drop charges against the journalist.
This year’s International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists marks the 10th anniversary of the implementation of the UN’s ‘Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity,’ when the UN recognised press freedom as a cornerstone of a robust democracy.