A free press is essential for an informed citizen. A powerful press can, for example, expose corruption, shine a violation of human rights and provide the public with essential information during crises. In many places, journalists who play this vital role can venture into attacks by authoritarian regimes and criminal organizations to restrict press freedom and freedom of expression. Since the turn of the century, more than 1,500 journalists have been killed worldwide, and in more than 85 percent of the cases, the killers go unpunished.
Journalists around the world also face harassment, threats, arbitrary detention and politically motivated prosecutions. During the COVID-19 pandemic, authoritarian governments in China, Venezuela, Iran, and elsewhere used COVID-19 as an excuse to threaten, arrest, and attack journalists. Female journalists face specific risks, including cyberbullying, defamation and other gender-based threats and violence.
Governments make impunity possible by not correcting these abuses and crimes against journalists, and by committing abuses as well. NGOs rank China, North Korea and Turkmenistan among the worst countries in the world for press freedom, while Syria and Mexico are one of the most dangerous. According to the Committee for the Protection of Journalists, China, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt jail more journalists for their reporting than other countries.
On this International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, the United States calls on governments to conduct independent and transparent investigations into threats, attacks and killings when they occur; reform of police practices that enable the mistreatment of journalists; and abolish laws and practices that restrict their freedom of expression.
Comments during a public debate by the UN Security Council on Women, Peace and Security (via VTC)
Ambassador Kelly Craft
US Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
29 October 2020