U.N. Experts Call for Greater Protection for Journalistsإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
An alarming number of journalists are killed each year and those responsible are rarely brought to justice, U.N. experts said on Wednesday.
"Journalists who play a crucial role in ensuring a society that takes informed decisions, are killed at an alarming rate by state and non-state actors," said special rapporteur Christof Heyns in a report to the U.N. Human Rights Council.
Sixty-five journalists were killed in the first five months of 2012 around the world, a 50 percent rise on 2011, according to Swiss news agency ATS.
Of those, Syria saw at least 15 victims, Mexico seven and Somalia six.
In his report Heyns, rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, called for a new specific declaration on the protection of journalists "that would emphasize the recognized obligations of states with regard to the protection of the right of life and safety of journalists".
Frank La Rue, special rapporteur on freedom of expression, said on the sidelines of the council meeting: "What we are asking for in the report is that (in) countries that are not in an armed conflict situation, but that are in a situation of extreme violence because they are combating organized crime that harasses journalism from different angles ... that there should be a mechanism of protection."
La Rue said successful steps had been taken in countries including Colombia that "actually saved lives", but the main threat to journalists remained the impunity with which many are targeted around the world.
"Impunity is a problem all around in terms of humanized violations, but for journalists there is a more emphatic focus with a lack of interest from states and justice systems to investigate violence," he said.
The reasons for this range from the fact that journalists put themselves in danger by investigating governments, large companies, organized crime or money laundering.
In their reports the experts also highlighted the associated problems of self-censorship owing to intimidation.
One of the most immediate challenges is implementing international laws regarding the protection of journalists and making sure that these "are reflected in domestic laws and practices", said La Rue.