Press Freedom





UN: Commitments on paper to protect journalists not enough


Welcomes the adoption at the UN General Assembly of a resolution on “safety of journalists and the issue of impunity” on 18 December 2019, with record levels of support. It is the 10th UN resolution on this topic since 2012, yet the global threats facing journalists, in particular outside of conflict zones, remain largely unchanged. Governments must show political will and act to implement the resolution; where they fail, the UN must bolster international mechanisms able to step in.


The UN General Assembly resolution, led by Argentina, Austria, France, Greece, Tunisia and Costa Rica, was adopted on 18 December by consensus. An additional 100 countries, from all regions, expressed support for the resolution as cosponsors – a record for UN resolutions on the safety of journalists. This increased support at the international level is welcome, but it must now be translated into renewed political commitment and allocation of resources at the national level to prevent and protect against, and ensure remedy for attacks on journalists.


While overall numbers of journalists killed fell in 2019, rates of impunity for killings, where States have failed to hold to account those responsible for murders, remained largely undated.


The resolution recommits States to important actions, in line with their international human rights obligations, to tackle impunity and also protect and prevent against attacks. This includes:

The duty for political leaders to publicly, unequivocally and systematically condemn and speak out against attacks against journalists;

To create and properly resource national protection mechanisms;

To create special investigative and prosecutorial units for crimes against journalists, with specific protocols to end impunity, ensuring the independence of investigations that bring the masterminds behind attacks to justice.


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