Vi­o­lence against press drops: Re­port

The Myanmar Times - - Asean Focus -

WHILE the trend in­di­cates de­creas­ing cases of vi­o­lence against jour­nal­ists over the last cou­ple of years, the le­gal im­punity of the per­pe­tra­tors will likely re­main the norm, as high­lighted in a re­port re­cently is­sued by the United Na­tions Ed­u­ca­tional, Sci­en­tific and Cul­tural Or­ga­ni­za­tion (UN­ESCO).

In its re­port to the In­ter­gov­ern­men­tal Coun­cil of the In­ter­na­tional Pro­gram for the De­vel­op­ment of Com­mu­ni­ca­tion (IPDC), the UN agency high­lighted that it recorded the killings of 182 jour­nal­ists be­tween 2016 and 2017, 82 of which oc­curred in 2017 – the low­est num­ber since 2011.

The num­ber is also lower than that dur­ing the pre­vi­ous two-year pe­riod, when 213 jour­nal­ists were killed while do­ing their job.

“How­ever, this trend does not ap­pear to be con­firmed in 2018, with 80 killings al­ready con­demned by the di­rec­tor gen­eral of UN­ESCO as of Oc­to­ber 9,” the re­port wrote.

Asia Pa­cific is the re­gion with the most killings with 27 oc­cur­rences, or 34 per­cent of all jour­nal­ist killings, last year. The year also recorded the first time in re­cent years that the ma­jor­ity of such killings, 55 per­cent, oc­curred in coun­tries not ex­pe­ri­enc­ing armed con­flicts.

Fe­male jour­nal­ists tend to face greater risks in the form of sex­ual ha­rass­ment, vi­o­lence and threats of vi­o­lence; both in real life and on­line. The re­port cited a sur­vey pub­lished this year by Troll­busters and the In­ter­na­tional Women’s Me­dia Foun­da­tion, which re­ported that 58 pc of fe­male jour­nal­ists stated they had been threat­ened or ha­rassed.

In­done­sia ap­pears to be fol­low­ing the global trend of de­creas­ing cases of vi­o­lence against jour­nal­ists. Ac­cord­ing to the Al­liance of In­de­pen­dent Jour­nal­ists (AJI), the coun­try saw fewer cases of vi­o­lence against jour­nal­ists last year with 66 cases, down from 81 in 2016.

“How­ever, the num­ber can still be con­sid­ered higher than our av­er­age of 40 to 50 cases per year in the last 10 years,” AJI chair­man Ab­dul Manan told The Jakarta Post last Thurs­day.

As last Thurs­day, the al­liance had recorded 34 cases of vi­o­lence through­out this year, seven of which took the form of de­struc­tion of jour­nal­ists’ equip­ment.

Ab­dul noted at least seven jour- nal­ist killings in the coun­try that re­mained un­re­solved, which in­clude the mur­der of Yo­gyakarta-based daily Ber­nas jour­nal­ist Fuad Muham­mad Syafrud­din, or Udin, in 1996.

The num­ber of un­solved cases resonates in the UN­ESCO re­port, which high­lighted that only one in 10 killings around the world had been re­solved.

“These un­re­solved cases will pro­long the cul­ture of le­gal im­punity for the per­pe­tra­tors, which may open the pos­si­bil­ity of re­cur­ring [vi­o­lence] in the fu­ture,” Ab­dul said.

Such vi­o­lence can only be solved by firm law en­force­ment by law en­forcers, who have even taken part in the vi­o­lence them­selves in a num­ber of cases.

“The Press Coun­cil should also play a more ac­tive role in solv­ing the is­sue as man­dated [by the Press Law],” Ab­dul said.

In­done­sian Press Coun­cil chair­man Yoseph Adi Prase­tyo could not be reached for com­ment.

In a state­ment, UN sec­re­tary gen­eral An­tónio Guter­res urged gov­ern­ments and in­ter­na­tional com­mu­ni­ties to pro­tect jour­nal­ists as so­ci­eties are pay­ing the price for vi­o­lence against the press.

He was echoed by UN­ESCO di­rec­tor gen­eral Au­drey Azoulay, who said “the fight against im­punity is in­sep­a­ra­ble from the de­fense of fun­da­men­tal free­doms, [which in­clude] the free­dom of ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion”.

In com­mem­o­ra­tion of the In­ter­na­tional Day to End Im­punity for Crimes against Jour­nal­ists, last Fri­day, UN­ESCO launched a new cam­paign, called “Truth Never Dies”, which en­cour­ages me­dia or­gan­i­sa­tions and jour­nal­ists to pub­lish and share sto­ries on, or writ­ten by, other jour­nal­ists who have been killed for do­ing their job.

The cam­paign, UN­ESCO added, would send a strong mes­sage that “killing a jour­nal­ist does not kill the truth, it just makes it more talked about”. – Jakarta Post

A UN­ESCO re­port states 82 jour­nal­ists were killed last year, the low­est num­ber since 2011.

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