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THREAT-To journalists undermine democracy

By James Atem Kuir

The United Nation Secretary General, Antonio Gutteres has said that threatening journalists in an attempt to curtail information undermine democracy and the rule of law.

Mr. Gutteres made the remarks on the annual commemoration of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists yesterday, lamented that as journalists faced threats including killing, kidnapping, torture, detention and harassment, perpetrators often go unpunished.

The UN chief said the number of journalists killed across the world in line of duty had risen in recent years with nearly nine out of ten of the murders left unresolved.

“Last year, according to UNESCO, 62 journalists were killed just for doing their jobs. Many lost their lives to conflicts. But in recent years, the number of media workers killed while investigating corruption, trafficking, and other human rights violations, had risen.  Almost nine out of ten of these killings go unpunished,” he said in statement obtained by Juba Monitor.

“And journalists faces countless other threats – from kidnapping and torture to detention and harassment.The COVID-19 pandemic, and the shadow pandemic of misinformation, have demonstrated that access to information can be a matter of life and death. Threatening that access by targeting journalists sends a disturbing message that undermines democracy and the rule of law,” the UN Chief stressed.

According to Reporters without Borders (RSF), South Sudan ranks among the worst places in the world to be a journalist scoring 139 out of 180 on the Global Press Freedom Index released in May this year.

A recent report by Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)also rankedSouth Sudan the fourth worst country with unresolved killings of journalists on the Global Impunity Index. The report released in late October indicated there were at least five murders of journalists that remained unsolved.

Mr. Gutteres called on all UN members states to investigate and prosecute crimes against journalists and enforce law to punish perpetrators to end impunity.

‘Today, on the International Day to End Impunity for crimes against Journalists, we call for justice for journalists killed in the line of duty, and commemorate their legacy and achievements. I urge all Member States to stand in solidarity with journalists, and to investigate and prosecute crimes against them with the full force of the law,” he said.

CPJ report has listed that 278 journalists had been killed across the world while doing their jobin the period between September 1, 2011 and September 31, 2021, with at least 226 murders either remaining unresolved or perpetrators roaming free.

The International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists is marked annually on 2 November to raise awareness about threats faced by journalists and formulate ways to counter violence against the news disseminators.

United Nations General Assembly chose 2 November in its resolution number A/RES/68/163in commemoration of the assassination of two French journalists in Mali on 2 November 2013.

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