A group of editors, journalists and writers from South Asia, the UK and Australia has urged all governments and segment of society to respect professional media, uphold the law, and resist the intimidation and censoring of journalists.
“They must ensure accountability through the conduct of impartial, speedy and effective investigations into cases of violence against journalists and media workers falling within their jurisdiction, to bring the perpetrators of such crimes to justice, and assure victims access to appropriate remedies,” said the South Asia Media Defenders Network (SAMDEN) on Thursday.
It made the calls in a media statement issued on the occasion of International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, November 2.
SAMDEN paid tributes to the journalists who work tirelessly, courageously and professionally to report on and defend human rights throughout the world, and all those who work for substantive equality.
“The alarming increase in violence against media defenders and violation of their rights demonstrates the importance of strengthening protection mechanism across the globe.”
The statement mentioned that more than 900 journalists have been killed in the last decade, according to the UN. Also, over 30 journalists have been targeted and killed in 2017, including the recent attacks on journalists in Kenya, Malta, India and Pakistan.
A recently formed association of editors and media practitioners to stand up for the rights of journalists, SAMDEN also urged the media owners and publishers to protect their staff and provide assistance cover in all situations.
“They must develop robust non-discrimination policies to safeguard female journalists and undertake risk assessment analysis in regions of conflict and confrontation,” it added.
The Network also affirmed the importance of freedom of expression and of a free media in building inclusive knowledge societies and democracies to foster intercultural dialogue, peace and good governance.
Some of the signatories include Dhaka Tribune Editor Zafar Sobhan; Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) Director Sanjoy Hazarika; columnist and author Salil Tripathi, Chair of London-based Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International; Kanak Dixit, Founder-Editor of Himal South Asia, Nepal; and NDTV Executive Editor Nidhi Razdan.
From Bangladesh, The Daily Star’s Editor and Publisher Mahfuz Anam and Prof Imtiaz Ahmed of Dhaka University’s International Relations Department and Centre for Genocide Studies (CGS) were also among other signatories.