UNESCO New Zealand is behind the call for newsrooms around the world to observe a minute’s silence to remember journalists murdered doing their job.
Chairman of the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO, Bryan Gould said the initiative had been made by the New Zealand delegation at UNESCO’s General Conference in Paris in October last year. It was adopted by the international body as a way of highlighting the issue of journalist murders and will be observed during World Press Freedom Day Conference in Brisbane on May 3.
Former journalist Paul Smith, a member of the delegation, suggested the minute’s silence at the UNESCO General Conference in Paris. He said this week that almost every week a journalist somewhere in the world lost his or her life.
“These aren’t accidental killings, they are murders. This is one way to draw attention to these crimes aimed at limiting the public’s right to know”.
Last year set a new record, with 77 murders reported by UNESCO which also uncovered a trend: The agency’s report on this issue last month found that the percentage of murders in 2008-09 that were not linked to conflicts rose in comparison to the previous two-year period. Most victims were not foreign war correspondents, but rather local journalists who were working in countries at peace.
The reported noted that “Sadly, the frequency of acts of violence against journalists is increasing. In most cases, impunity precludes the way of justice, and if this trend prevails, journalists will remain easy targets. Needless to say this represents a severe threat to freedom of expression and to our ability to seek the truth.”
“At least 80 per cent of the 125 murders in 2008-2009 were due to attacks specifically targeting the victims by ‘those who do not wish journalists to investigate and reveal information of public interest.”
UNESCO is encouraging New Zealand journalists to take part in the Minute’s silence at 5pm on Monday 3 May 2010, to coincide with its observation at the World Press Freedom Day Conference that will be taking place in Brisbane, Australia