Unifor supports ending impunity for crimes against journalists

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A woman wearing a mask looking through the lens of a camera.

Knowing the truth means safeguarding the truth.

Imagine going to work every day, knowing that you may be a target of attack or that you may be killed on the job. But you’re not a soldier or a police officer. Instead, you’re armed only with pen and notepad, or perhaps a smartphone and camera.

You are on the frontlines to narrate our stories, keep the public informed, and reveal the happenings in communities and across the globe.

Today, November 2, Unifor recognizes the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, a United Nations-recognized international day observed annually. The purpose of the day is to draw attention to a lack of accountability for crimes committed against journalists.

From Afghanistan to Ukraine, and currently in the Middle East, journalists are increasingly under attack and putting themselves at risk to get us the information we need to understand our world.

At least 24 journalists have been killed since the Israel/Palestine war began on Oct. 7.

In Ukraine, as of April 2023, 12 journalists have died covering the Russian invasion.

And in Afghanistan, 11 journalists have died since 2020.

The percentage of women journalists killed worldwide has almost doubled – from 6% in 2020 to 11% in 2021. According to UNESCO, the severe increase in online violence, harassment and abuse against journalists is spilling over into in-person violence.

In Canada, the harassment and abuse of journalists is on the rise. Unifor has outlined the problem, what’s at stake and what can be done in a report called, Breaking the News – Media Workers Under Attack.

Journalists who experience harassment can find immediate support and resources on our website, uniformedia.ca/helpishere.

Unifor is also working on a comprehensive plan to educate members, create stronger collective agreement language, develop training and advocacy programs, lobbying to support journalists and media workers and to combat this harassment and abuse.

Our union is calling to end the impunity for crimes against journalists. One death is too many and governments must act. Here are the actions our union is calling for:

Strengthening Legal Protections: Countries should enact and enforce strong legal frameworks that protect journalists and media workers from harassment, violence, and threats.

Accountability and Justice: Governments must ensure that those who commit crimes against journalists are held accountable. Establishing dedicated mechanisms to investigate and prosecute these crimes is essential.

Safe Working Environments: Countries should collaborate with media organizations to create safe working environments for journalists. This includes providing security training, protective gear, and safe reporting spaces.

International Cooperation: International collaboration is vital in addressing this global issue. Countries should work together to exchange information, expertise, and best practices to protect journalists and prevent impunity.

In 2023, there are already 45 journalists who have been killed. Since 1993, we have lost a total of1626 journalists. A full list of journalists killed since 1992 can be found here.

Coming home safely from work should not be a privilege. Journalists and media workers deserve to be protected.

We need to end impunity for crimes against journalists now.