UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called on governments and the international community to take necessary steps to protect journalists, to end a common culture of impunity and to enable journalists to do their essential work.
Guterres msde the appeal in his message on Wednesday to mark the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists.
The United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 68163 at its 68th session in 2013, which proclaimed the November 2 as the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.
This year also marks the 10th anniversary of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.
The secretary-general underscored the importance of a free press, which he said, is vital to a functioning democracy, exposing wrongdoing, navigating our complex world.
He said a free press is vital to advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – the blueprint for a more just, equitable and greener future.
“On this International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, let us honour our media workers, and stand up for truth, justice and human rights for all,” he said.
Despite their critical role, according to him, more than 70 journalists have been killed this year alone.
“Most of these crimes go unsolved.
Meanwhile, a record number of journalists are incarcerated today, while threats of imprisonment, violence, and death keep growing,” Guterres said.
Furthermore, he said a surge in disinformation, online bullying and hate speech, particularly against women journalists was contributing to the stifling of media workers around the globe.
“Intimidation through the abuse of legal, financial and other means, is undermining efforts to hold the powerful accountable.
These trends threaten not only journalists, but society as a whole,” he added.
Eighteen have been murdered so far this year, according to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), which maintains an online database on judicial enquiries into journalist killings worldwide.
Patricia Monreal Vázquez has been reporting for more than 25 years, and covers issues related to human rights, gender, and electoral and political issues.
She is based in Morelia, capital of the western state of Michoacán.
Monreal said violence against journalists had worsened since 2006, which is when the first cases of journalist disappearances began.
“And this began to discourage, to silence, to generate self-censorship in the media.
“A total of 14 colleagues were murdered from 2006 to date and six are missing.
And nobody has been detained here in Michoacán in any of these cases, except for one,” she said.
She believes that this situation, together with adverse working conditions and the lack of development opportunities, have affected the quality of journalism because survival comes first.
“Yes, there is an inhibiting effect, especially at the regional level, and media outlets are being closed due to threats,’’ Monreal said.
“It is a very complex situation because it involves families,” she said, citing the 2017 kidnapping and murder of Salvador Adame, director of a local TV station, as an example.
“He had already been buried, and still the following year his family was expelled from their home.
Even death is not enough,’’ the journalist lamented.