South Asia journalists forum urges governments to tackle crimes against media

New Delhi, November 2 (IANS) A forum of journalists from South Asia on Thursday urged governments and society to respect professional media, uphold the law, and resist the intimidation and censoring of journalists.


The South Asia Media Defenders Network, on the occasion of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, paid tributes to journalists throughout the world who work tirelessly, courageously and professionally to report on and defend human rights and all those who work for substantive equality, a statement said.


Journalists face a unique set of challenges while performing their duties and often run into specific risks of intimidation, harassment and violence.


The alarming increase in violence against media defenders and violation of their rights demonstrates the importance of strengthening protection mechanism across the globe, it noted.


According to the UN, more than 900 journalists have been killed in the last decade, while over 30 journalists have been targeted and killed in 2017, including the recent attacks on journalists in Kenya, Malta, India and Pakistan.


It called on governments to ensure accountability through the conduct of impartial, speedy and effective investigations into cases of violence against journalists and media workers and to bring the perpetrators of such crimes to justice, and assure victims access to appropriate remedies.


It urged media owners and publishers to protect staff and provide assistance cover in all situations, including the confiscation and destruction of equipment.


It affirmed the importance of freedom of expression and of a free media in building inclusive knowledge societies and democracies to foster intercultural dialogue, peace and good governance.


The statement was signed by Sanjoy Hazarika, Director, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), columnist and author, Salil Tripathi, columnist, author, Chair of the Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International, London, Tarun Basu, Director and former Chief Editor, IANS and President, Society for Policy Studies (SPS), Mahfuz Anam, Editor and Publisher of The Daily Star, Bangladesh, among others.