On Wednesday 18th December 2013 the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution (A/RES/68/163) on “The safety of journalists and the issue of impunity”. This resolution “condemns unequivocally all attacks and violence against journalists and media workers, such as torture, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and arbitrary detention, as well as intimidation and harassment in both conflict and non-conflict situations”.
The Resolution calls upon States to promote a safe and enabling environment for journalists to perform their work independently and without undue interference. States are encouraged to use legislative measures, to increase awareness regarding international human rights and humanitarian law obligations relating to the safety of journalists among the judiciary and law enforcement officers, as well as among journalists and in civil society, to monitor and report attacks against journalists; publicly to condemn attacks, and to dedicate the resources necessary to investigate and prosecute such attacks.
The Resolution also proclaimed 2 November as an International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.
The safety of journalists was the first subject examined as part of CGHR’s research collaboration with the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions on the right to life. In March 2012, CGHR and the Special Rapporteur, Prof. Christof Heyns, convened a Meeting of Experts in Cambridge. The discussions at that meeting informed Prof Heyns’ report to the Human Rights Council (A/HRC/20/22), which in turn was part of a growing momentum of international action on the issue, leading to the Human Rights Council’s Resolution (A/HRC/RES/21/12) later that year. The General Assembly Resolution adopted earlier this week represents further progress in bringing these vital questions to the forefront of the international conscience.