In the face of the impunity of power, greater commitment to the defense of freedom of the press
November 2 is the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, a day dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of press freedom and the safety of journalists worldwide. Journalists play a fundamental role in our society by keeping us informed, uncovering corruption and fighting for the truth. However, many of them face threats, violence and even death in the exercise of their profession.
Journalists are the guardians of truth and transparency in our society. Their work is essential to hold governments, companies and other institutions accountable for their actions. Journalists investigate, report and expose corruption, abuses of power and injustices. Their work is a backbone of democracy, providing citizens with the information they need to make informed decisions.
Despite their crucial role, journalists often face serious risks. Violence against them has been on the rise in recent years, and many have lost their lives in the course of their work. Impunity for crimes against journalists is a persistent problem around the world. Perpetrators are rarely brought to justice, creating an atmosphere of fear and self-censorship among media professionals.
To understand the importance of this day, it is vital to remember some of the journalists who have lost their lives. One of the most notorious cases is that of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist murdered in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul in 2018. Although the reasons for his death were never clarified, the journalist wrote several articles on the Arab Spring, referring to the need for democratization of the Islamic world, with important criticism of the Saudi government. In his last article before his assassination, he called for freedom of expression in the Arab world in his role as a columnist for the Washington Post. His death exposed the brutality that some governments are willing to use to silence the critical press.
The case prompted a special UN report by the then Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, Agnès Callamard, who concluded that it was a planned extrajudicial execution for which the State of Saudi Arabia was responsible.
Another emblematic case is the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, a Maltese journalist known for her investigative work on corruption in Malta. She was killed in a car bombing in 2017. His death shocked the world and highlighted the dangers faced by journalists who dare to challenge the powerful.
This last casefrom FIBGARhas been the subject of study by our PATFox Projectwhose main objective is to improve the skills and training of lawyers who represent journalists and human rights defenders facing strategic lawsuits that seek to silence public participation, known as strategic lawsuits against public participation or SLAPPs.
This Project has, among others, a clear mission: the fight against impunity and the protection of journalists. Training lawyers specialized in the defense of journalists is essential to seek justice in cases such as that of Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta.
The case of the journalists Matthew and Daphne Caruana has been analyzed by Project member Carla Camilleri, you can download her report here here .
Journalism has always had a significant impact on history, exposing scandals and revealing the truth. One of the most notorious moments was the Watergate scandal, involving journalists Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward of The Washington Post. His rigorous work and persistence led to the uncovering of a corruption scheme that ultimately led to the resignation of U.S. President Richard Nixon.
Another historical example is the investigative journalism that exposed civil rights abuses in the 1960s, in particular the work of journalists such as Ida B. Wells, who documented the lynchings of African Americans in the southern United States. His courageous denunciation helped fuel the civil rights movement and change public opinion about racial violence.
The International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists is a reminder of the importance of protecting the guardians of transparency and information in our society. Journalists play a vital role in exposing corruption, fighting for justice and holding institutions accountable for their actions. However, many of them face serious threats and violence in the exercise of their duties.
Remembering murdered journalists like Jamal Khashoggi and Daphne Caruana Galizia makes us aware of the dangers faced by those who dare to challenge the powerful in search of the truth. Moreover, the history of journalism, with key moments such as Watergate and the civil rights struggle, demonstrates the transformative power of quality journalism.
The fight for press freedom and the protection of journalists is an ongoing task. We all have a responsibility to defend and support those who work tirelessly to keep us informed and defend the truth in our society.