A code of conduct for Commonwealth countries to protect journalists’ freedom of expression and reduce their murder has been introduced in London.
As many as 57 journalists were killed for their work in Commonwealth countries between 2013 and 2017 and more than 90% of the cases remain unsolved, an audience of academics and journalists at London’s Senate House was told on Wednesday night where six Commonwealth organisations launched ‘12 principles’ on protecting the media’s right to report and carry out its activities. The authorities hope the principles will be adopted as a manual of good practice by the Commonwealth nations next week when its 53 heads of government meet.
Last year, the deaths included the fatal shooting of activist-cum-journalist Gauri Lankesh and the car bombing that killed Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
April 16, the first day of the Commonwealth summit, is the six months’ anniversary of Galizia’s murder. “There has been a wholly inadequate investigation into her death and no prospect of those who commissioned the murder being brought to justice,” her lawyer Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC said. Lankesh’s murder also remains unresolved.
The number of journalists being killed in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh was rising faster than anywhere else, journalist William Horsley, who helped draw up the principles, told the audience.
Between 2006 and 2016, 104 journalists were recorded as killed in Commonwealth countries, and not one case has led to the conviction of the killers, he pointed out.
More than 900 journalists have been killed globally in the past 11 years. Apart from being killed, journalists in the Commonwealth faced torture, threats, intimidation, arrest and detention, in attempts to silence them.