World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers

#EndImpunity for Crimes Against Journalists

World News Publishing Focus

World News Publishing Focus
Your Guide to the Changing Media Landscape

#EndImpunity for Crimes Against Journalists

There has never been a more dangerous time for journalists. They are being killed and imprisoned worldwide in record numbers. They face daily threats, attacks and intimidation from private individuals, non-state actors, and government officials who seek to silence them. The overwhelming majority of these crimes are committed with impunity - in fact, less than 1 in 10 cases involving the killing of journalists is ever resolved.

45 journalists have lost their lives so far this year.

Together with our members, global partners and colleagues from media freedom organisations worldwide we draw your attention to some of the stories behind impunity, as well as some of the proposed solutions designed to combat the most deadly threat to press freedom.


A Global Story: Combating Impunity - from our blogs

Making a Point on Safety
Zaffar Abbas is the Editor of DAWN newspaper in Pakistan, the oldest and most widely read English language paper in the country. Zaffar has for many years been passionately engaged in the life of WAN-IFRA, and in particular the World Editors Forum, where he sits as a member of the board and provides advice and assistance on a number of its programmes and initiatives. Read more...


Zambian Editor Defiant in Face of Shooting
"Although this day sounds new to most journalists in Zambia, there has been increasing impunity among politicians and those in the government to commit all sorts of crimes against journalists." Read more...

How you can help in the fight for justice - an appeal to editors and media leaders

The safety of journalists has become one of the most pressing issues for defenders of freedom of expression says Guy Berger, Director for Freedom of Expression and Media Development at UNESCO. "More than 700 journalists have been killed in the last decade alone, and according to the latest report by UNESCO’s Director-General on the Safety of Journalists and the Danger of Impunity, less than 7% cases of journalists killed have been resolved."

“This impunity sends the message to society that killing a journalist will almost never have consequences for the perpetrators. But enhanced media coverage of the issue of impunity can help to change this,” says Berger.

UNESCO, as the UN agency that leads on these issues, is encouraging informal partnerships with different media houses in order to raise awareness amongst the general public and policy-makers alike.


Statement of UNESCO Secretary General Irina Bokova.

Global Safety Principles and Practice

WAN-IFRA has signed on to the Global Safety Principles and Practices document, drawn up at the beginning of 2015 as a journalist-led response to the dangers faced by freelancers worldwide. We are encouraging our members to sign individually to add their names to the growing list of those endorsing the principles and taking action to keep journalists safe.

"Locally-based journalists face by far the largest threat and endure the vast majority of murders, imprisonments and abductions. We call on governments, combatants and groups worldwide to respect the neutrality of journalists and immediately end the cycle of impunity surrounding attacks on journalists. At the same time, the kidnapping and murder of reporters James Foley and Steven Sotloff brought to light the growing risks faced by international freelance journalists."

Read the Principles in full here.

News organisations, journalist associations or advocacy groups interested in joining these guidelines should contact David Rohde,

The UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity
The Plan of Action aims to creating of a free and safe environment for journalists and media workers, both in conflict and non-conflict situations, with a view to strengthening peace, democracy and development worldwide. Its measures include, among other undertakings, the establishment of a coordinated inter-agency mechanism to handle issues related to the safety of journalists as well as assisting countries to develop legislation and mechanisms favourable to freedom of expression and information, and supporting their efforts to implement existing international rules and principles.

To further reinforce prevention, the Plan recommends working in cooperation with governments, media houses, professional associations and NGOS to conduct awareness raising campaigns on a wide range of issues such as existing international instruments and conventions, the growing dangers posed by emerging threats to media professionals, including non-state actors, as well as various existing practical guides on the safety of journalists.

Download the Plan:

Visit the website to learn more:

Materials from last year's campaign.


Andrew Heslop's picture

Andrew Heslop


2015-11-02 10:51

Author information

The World Editors Forum is the organisation within the World Association of Newspapers devoted to newspaper editors worldwide. The Editors Weblog (, launched in January 2004, is a WEF initiative designed to facilitate the diffusion of information relevant to newspapers and their editors.

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