Attacks on journalists akin to attack on democracy

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Journalists and media workers

United Nations Human Rights experts have decried the high number journalists killed or subjected to inhuman treatment in the course of their duties.

Frank La Rue expert on freedom of opinion and expression and Christof Heyns expert on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions called on governments worldwide to act decisively to protect journalists and media freedom.

In their reports to the UN Human Rights Council the two experts said journalists were increasingly facing grave human rights violations including receiving death threats, arbitrary arrests, torture and killings, and sexual violence against female journalists.

Mr. La Rue called for an end to the use of laws on defamation, national security and counterterrorism to suppress dissent and criticism, saying it generates a climate of fear and encourages self-censorship among journalists.

"On-line journalists and bloggers also face additional forms of harassment, intimidation and censorship. An attack against a journalist is not only a violation of his or her right to impart information, but also a violation of the right of individuals and society at large to seek and receive information and ideas of all kinds. An attack against a journalist can therefore be conceived as an attack against democracy itself. The problem of continued and increasing violence against journalists is not the lack of legal standards, but the lack of implementation of existing norms and standards. Indeed, it is the failure of States to take effective preventive measures, as well as their unwillingness or inability to investigate and prosecute those responsible that continues to fuel violence against journalists."

Duration 55″

Filed under Today's News.
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