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UN raises concern over attacks on media

When journalists did not feel safe, citizens would either not get news reports or get distorted and false news.

• November 3, 2020
Journalist conducting an interview.
Journalist conducting an interview used to illustrate the story

The attacks on journalists and independent media organisations has become a source of worry, says Ronald Kayanja, a United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) director in Nigeria.

Mr. Kayanja spoke at a virtual event held to commemorate the 2020 International Day to End Impunity For Crimes Against Journalists.

He said that journalists, journalism and media houses must be protected by all means. He also called on authorities to investigate cases of attacks on journalists while allowing the relevant  arms of the law to bring justice in those situations.

Mr. Kayanja said that when journalists did not feel safe, citizens would either not get news reports or get distorted and false news.

“One way to fight fake news and hate speech which are pervasive through digital media is to strengthen the independent media, Mr. Kayanja said. “Let us renew our commitment to this freedom of expression and of the press through increased advocacy for the safety of journalists.”

Also speaking at the event, Sow Lamine of the UNESCO Regional Office in Abuja said that peace, justice and sustainable development in societies could be advanced only by speaking truth to power. He called for the elimination of impunity against journalists.

“If you protect journalists, you are protecting the truth,” he said.

The UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay in her message said that one of the most important roles of journalists was to bring truth to light.

“For many journalists, telling the truth comes with a price.

“Many have lost their lives while covering conflicts, but more are being killed outside of conflict situations for investigating issues including corruption, trafficking, political wrongdoings and others.

“States, therefore, have an obligation to protect journalists and ensure that the perpetrators of crimes against them are held accountable.

“Judges and prosecutors in particular have an important role to play in promoting swift and effective criminal proceedings,” Ms. Azoulay said.


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