Ending Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists

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The role of journalists in the society cannot be underestimated.

As the fourth estate of the realm, they shape opinions, perceptions, enlighten and educate members of the public on government policies, programmes and happenings around the world.

Journalists are at the forefront of disasters, wars and crimes by the nature of their profession.

Citizens depend largely on journalists to report happenings in the society based on fairness, truth and unbiased opinion.

Despite these important roles, journalists, the world over, are being harassed, intimidated and killed with impunity while discharging their
duties.

The perpetrators of brutality against journalists range from government, politicians, and security personnel to the society at large.

A survey by the Council of Europe indicates that journalists in that part of the world suffer from violence, intimidations and self-censorship.

Similarly, a report by Reporters without Borders, RSF, shows that Forty Seven journalists have been killed in the first half of this year.

Just last month, a journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, believed to be Saudi dissident was killed at Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

In the same vein, on the twenty fourth of September, a Mexican journalist, Mario Leonel Gomez Sanchez was killed in Chiapas.

In Nigeria, a journalist, Samuel Ogundipe was on August fifteen this year, arrested for refusal to disclose his source.

Also, in Kogi state, an editor, Wale Odunsi was reportedly attacked by security officials attached to the government.

Considering the enormous crimes committed against journalists and its effects on the morale of journalists, impunity against media workers should not be tolerated as it constitutes one of the most serious challenges to their safety.

Impunity against journalists has a damaging impact on them, limiting public awareness and constructive debate.

Stakeholders in the journalism profession, such as, International Press Council, Nigeria Press Council, Amnesty International, as well as Nigeria Union of Journalists had at one time or the other condemned this act of brutality.

Organizations and individuals worldwide are encouraged to talk about the unresolved cases in their countries, and write to government and
intra-governmental officials to demand action and justice.

Countries have to do their best to prevent violence against journalists and media workers, to ensure accountability, bring to justice perpetrators of crimes against journalists and media workers, and ensure that victims have access to appropriate remedies.

There is need for world leaders to promote a safe and enabling environment for journalists to perform their work independently and without undue interference.

In addition, those at the helm of affairs should respect human rights law and the constitution by guaranteeing freedom of expression and press freedom.

Governments, civil society, stakeholders in the journalism profession should uphold the rule of law and join hands in the global efforts to end impunity against journalists.

Nigeria Press Council and Nigeria Union of Journalists in all ramifications must be firm in providing adequate protection for journalists in the country.

Above all, journalists should realise that investigative reporting is a delicate job and hence should at all times adhere strictly to the ethics of the profession and avoid being overzealous.

Adeyoyin Shomoye

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