As the world celebrates World Impunity Day today November 2, 2015, the MFWA urges countries in West Africa to be committed to safety of journalists and ensure justice for victims of free expression violations.
In 2013, the UN General Assembly passed a Resolution on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. The Resolution urged Member States to prevent violence against journalists and media workers, ensure accountability and bring to justice perpetrators of crimes against journalists and media workers. The Resolution also called on States to promote a safe and enabling environment for journalists to perform their work independently and without undue interference.
According to the MFWA’s Press Freedom Violation Monitoring Report, 100 cases of press freedom violations were recorded in 2014 alone. This included attacks and threats, arbitrary arrests, cases of censorship and punitive fines. Even before 2015 ends, the MFWA has recorded 102 press freedom violations. These violations have mainly been in the form of physical attacks, arbitrary arrests and detentions. More than 130 journalists have been victims of free expression violations.
It is regrettable that nearly all the victims of these violations are yet to receive justice as perpetrators of these violations have not been punished.
When perpetrators of free expression violations are left unpunished, it creates a culture of impunity which in turn creates a climate of injustice and insecurity resulting in a world where free expression is silenced.
As we salute the gallant efforts of journalists working under difficult conditions across West Africa, we wish to call on countries in the sub-region to renew their commitment to protecting journalists and media organisations by ensuring that violators of journalists’ rights are punished. That is the surest way to fighting impunity.