Zimbabwe media stakeholders commemorated the International Day to End impunity for Crimes against Journalists (IDEI) on 2 November 2021 at an event held in Harare under the theme: “Countering threats of violence & crimes against journalists to protect freedom & expression for all”.
The Minister of Information, Publicity, and Broadcasting Services Monica Mutsvangwa said the government was making efforts to create a conducive working environment for journalists.
“We seek to remove anything that hinders the work of the media. We are open, transparent, and supportive of media,” Minister Monica Mutsvangwa
Minister Mutsvangwa said the Zimbabwean Government does not condone any acts of violence against journalists and encouraged the media practitioners to use official existing channels to report on any issues of violence against journalists.
UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa, Advisor for Communication and Information Al Amin Yusuph presented the UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azoulay’s message which emphasized the important role of the media in speaking truth to power.
“For too many journalists, however, telling the truth comes at a price. Truth and power do not always go hand in hand. Worldwide, between 2006 and 2020, nearly 1,200 journalists were killed in the line of duty. Many have lost their lives while covering conflicts, but even more are being killed outside situations of conflict, murdered for investigating issues such as corruption, trafficking, political wrongdoing, human rights violations and environmental abuses,” UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azoulay.
In that message, the Director-General bemoaned the lack of prosecution of those who perpetrate crimes against journalists in many countries.
We seek to remove anything that hinders the work of the media. We are open, transparent and supportive of media
“In nearly nine out of 10 cases, the perpetrators of these crimes go unpunished. Journalists are essential to preserving the fundamental right to freedom of expression, set out in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. When attacks against journalists go unpunished, the legal system and safety frameworks have failed everyone,” UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azoulay.
The message called on State Parties to protect journalists and to ensure that the perpetrators of crimes against them are punished. It noted that judges and prosecutors in particular have an important role to play in promoting swift and effective criminal proceedings.
To this end, in recent years, UNESCO has trained nearly 23,000 judicial officials, including judges, prosecutors and lawyers. The training covered international standards related to freedom of expression and the safety of journalists and placed particular focus on issues of impunity.
Mr Yusuph said in Southern Africa through the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC), UNESCO ROSA trained judiciary members from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Eswarini and Mozambique. In addition to this, UNESCO is to conduct another judicial training under the capacity building of the Judges Initiative Programme in Addis Ababa in early December 2021.
Speaking at the same event the European Union (EU) Head of Political Section, Lourdes Chamorro highlighted some gender issues in the media. She noted that more than 70% of female journalists had experienced some kind of online violence and as a response, in September 2021, the EU published recommendations against online and offline violence for their region”.
Government officials, members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police represented by the ZRP Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi, media stakeholders including the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), Zimbabwe Media Alliance (ZMA), Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ), and other media organisations as well as journalists from different media houses attended the IDEI national celebrations.
The International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists is commemorated every year on 2 November. This year, the #EndImpunity campaign is highlighting some of the specific risks which journalists face in their quest to uncover the truth.
“Only by investigating and prosecuting crimes against media professionals can we guarantee access to information and freedom of expression. Only by allowing the truth to be spoken can we advance peace, justice and sustainable development in our societies,” UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azoulay.