Harassment, intimidation, arrest and ill-treatment of journalists on the rise

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Journalists and media workers

A UN human rights expert has expressed concern over the growing use of legislation by governments to criminalize the work of journalists and youthful human rights defenders.

Ms Margaret Sekaggya, UN expert on the situation of Human Rights Defenders, says she was troubled by reports which implicate government officials, state security forces and the judiciary in the violation of the rights of journalists.

She said some countries have gone ahead to pass legislation prohibiting young people below 21 years from participating in public assemblies, and restricting the use of the Internet and other social media tools which are extensively used by journalists and the youth.

In a report to the UN Human Rights Council, Ms Sekaggya is calling on states to refrain from the persistent use of law to silence legitimate dissent on human rights issues.

"I am appalled at the number of communications regarding journalists and media workers who have paid with their lives for reporting on human rights abuses. Physical attacks, arrests, detention, interrogation and torture or ill treatment are being used to intimidate and silence these defenders. States should publicly recognize the role of these defenders and ensure prompt and impartial investigations and prosecution of those responsible for violations against them in order to combat impunity for both state and non state actors. States should ensure that all these defenders are not stigmatized, threatened or attacked especially by law enforcement officers during peaceful demonstrations, and generally in observance of their work."

Duration: 52"

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