ISLAMABAD:UNESCO under its Multi-Donor Program on Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists marked the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists (IDEI). The event was held in collaboration with the Delegation of the European Union to Pakistan, the Embassy of Sweden, and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Some seventy participants from diverse backgrounds joined the event, observing the need to ensure the freedom of expression and safety of journalists.
This year completes the 10 years of the UN Plan of Action on Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity (UNPA). It is the first concerted effort to address attacks and impunity of crimes against journalists globally. Adopting a holistic approach, it brings together UN bodies, national authorities, media, and civil society organizations together to promote a safer environment for media workers. The anniversary is a milestone to reaffirm, recommit and reposition efforts to advance the UN plan.
Pakistan was amongst the five countries in which the UNPA was piloted. Initiatives were also taken at the regional level. During the event held today, experts shed light on the efforts that took place during the decade. The recently enacted ‘Protection of Journalists and Media Professionals Act 2021’, states to implement best practices provided for in the UNPA.
The International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists recognizes the far-reaching consequences of impunity, especially of crimes against journalists in limiting fundamental freedoms, especially the freedom of expression. According to the UNESCO observatory, in Pakistan, 14 journalists lost their lives while doing their professional duties in the past two years. Independent research highlights extremely low levels of convictions against the killings of these journalists. This day asks member states to investigate these cases to reduce the impunity against these crimes.
Speaking at the occasion Her Highness Dr Riina Kionka, Ambassador of the European Union Delegation to Pakistan stated, “The protection of journalists is a concern for us all: a free press is a global public good that we should not take for granted. Putting an end to impunity for crimes against journalists is a must if we want to uphold freedom of expression and media freedom”.
Former Senator Farhat Ullah Babar graced the occasion and reiterated that enacted laws need to be implemented to ensure rule of law and governance. Mr. Youssef Felali-Meknasi, Country Representative and Director, UNESCO thanked the participants and stated, “As media freedom mirrors our freedom to express, we need to increase our efforts to protect and safeguard our fundamental freedoms.