An international conference to explore role of judiciary in fostering safety of journalists

Impunity for crimes against journalists is rampant and necessitates better responses by the criminal justice system to effectively address this phenomenon. More awareness-raising and more effective capacity-building of the judiciary and law enforcement is needed. To address this issue, a virtual four-hour conference will take place on 1 March at 12 p.m. under the theme “The role of the judiciary and international cooperation to foster safety of journalists – What works?”. It aims at identifying challenges and good practices in investigating and prosecuting crimes against journalists from the first phase of lodging a complaint in order to institute criminal justice proceedings to the phase until a perpetrator is brought to justice and a case is taken up by a court.

As Group of Friends on the Safety of Journalists we are committed to driving forward the implementation of the UN Plan of Action on Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. Impunity is rampant for crimes against journalists breeding more insecurity for the very guardians of truth and information vital for our societies. A more in-depth dialogue with judicial actors who have the primary responsibility to effectively investigate and prosecute such crimes is therefore highly needed in order to explore good practices and concrete solutions to address impunity.

Claudia Reinprecht, Austrian Permanent Delegate to UNESCO and Chair of the Group of Friends

The event will include three interactive panels composed of speakers from all regions, who will share good practices, discuss challenges, and identify concrete steps to effectively foster safety of journalists and combat impunity for crimes against journalists. A special spotlight will be shed on gender-specific and gender-based crimes, and the particular challenges faced by women in finding justice.

The first and second panels will build upon the key recommendations of the first Forum of Legal Actors, which was organized on 9 December 2020 during the World Press Freedom Conference in the Hague, the Netherlands. The discussion will specifically focus on raising capacity-building efforts for judicial actors; enhancing political will at national and international levels; and strengthening institutional mechanisms to push for more effective enforcement of regional and international standards.

In the third panel, UNESCO will present the preliminary findings of its new study on good practices in tackling online violence against women journalists, and the results of its global survey in this area. It will be followed by a discussion on the specific challenges involved in investigating and prosecuting gender-based crimes against journalists, both online and offline.

The event will also be an opportunity to highlight the importance of fostering the involvement and cooperation of Member States, UN agencies (UNESCO, UNODC, OHCHR) and regional courts to tackle the wide-ranging threats faced by journalists and the prevailing impunity for crimes committed against them.

The conference is supported by contributions from the Republic of Austria, Canada, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Watch the livestream in English, French, Spanish, Arabic.

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