Speakers at an event arranged to mark the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalist (IEDI) underscored the  role of free media in strengthening of democratic institutions.

The event was arranged by the UNESCO in collaboration with the Parliamentarians Commission for Human Rights, the European Union Delegation to Pakistan, the Embassy of Sweden, the Embassy of the Netherlands, High Commission of Canada, and British High Commission Islamabad to mark the IEDI.

A statement issued here said that in the context of increasing and emerging threats to journalists, this year’s IDEI focused on the institutional gaps and response to the safety of journalists. In addition, harassment of women journalists, and misinformation were also discussed as factors impeding their safety.

Being organized under UNESCO’s multi-donor program on freedom of expression and safety of journalists, the event was attended by around 60 participants. In 2013, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution to commemorate IDEI every year to raise awareness on journalists’ safety.

According to UNESCO, in Pakistan 81 journalists have lost their lives in the line of duty since 2004, while independent research highlights extremely low levels of convictions against the killings of these journalists.

This day recognizes the far-reaching consequences of impunity, especially of crimes against journalists in limiting fundamental freedoms.

Ms. Patricia McPhillips, Country Representative and Director of UNESCO, welcomed the participants and stressed that the threats and violence against journalists not only indicate a shrinking space for democratic discourse but also highlight the weakening of important institutions such as the rule of law and the judicial system.

In his remarks, H.E. Mr. Wouter Plomp, Ambassador of the Netherlands to Pakistan, said journalists should be able to report without fear, adding the Netherlands continues to strive for improving the conditions in which journalists work, both at the national as well as at the international level.

During the event, Ms. Gharida Farooqi, a journalist, said the safety of media workers should be ensured to work independently.

DG Information and Broadcasting Mr. Manzoor Memon elaborated on efforts by the government to ensure safety of journalists.

UNESCO’s Multi Donor Programme on Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists strengthens UNESCO’s work at global, regional, and national levels by channeling funds towards emerging priorities and the most pressing needs to achieve its mandate on freedom of expression.

 

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