The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers recorded 68 journalist deaths in 2012, with the on-going Syrian conflict responsible for the highest number of casualties. The by-product of a globally connected age may be an insatiable desire for information, yet the sad truth is that journalists continue to die gathering it.
While the causes vary, the common thread, according to Guy Berger, Director of the Division of Freedom of Expression and Media Development at UNESCO, is that “killers are not being brought to book.”
The word for this is impunity - a failure of justice and a measure of just how broken a society can become. Impunity for those who attack journalists – whether the perpetrators are criminals, terrorists, or government officials - sends an institutionalised message that it is acceptable to target those who speak out or reveal uncomfortable truths. It discourages investigation and silences critics, devaluing the watchdog status of the press over governing institutions. It allows the powerful to ride roughshod over our rights and freedoms.
Worse still, impunity perpetuates similar attacks, year after year. In the decade between 2002 and 2012, at least 801 journalist deaths have been registered.