Deputy Assistant Thomas O. Melia of Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor today stated that 546 journalists have been killed around the world with complete impunity since 1992.
According to Mr. Melia, the Committee to Protect Journalists in its global campaign against impunity has noted that three countries like Russia, Tajikistan, and Turkey are on the list of the top 20 countries that CPJ has recorded with unsolved, or in some instances entirely unaddressed, cases of murdered journalists.
“These murders are the most tragic cases, but there are hundreds more involving non-fatal violence against journalists that compounds the chilling effect.”-Mr. Melia
Mr. Melia said restrictive laws and administrative measures constrain the fundamental freedom of expression and independent media outlets and their employees are subjected to government harassment, as well as threatening actions by private actors tolerated by governments.
Mr. Melia reported that last October a court in Uzbekistan convicted Voice of America stringer Abdumalik Boboyev of “libel and insulting the Uzbek people,” and fined him approximately $8,000. He said Boboyev told the Committee to Protect Journalists the conviction was in retaliation for his critical reporting on the widespread government corruption, human rights abuses, the weak economy and flaws in the Uzbek healthcare system. Mr. Melia added, in May, the government denied Boboyev an exit visa to travel to Germany, where he had been awarded a scholarship from the Hamburg Foundation for the Politically Persecuted.
“You all well know the challenges – many of you are journalists yourselves, working under repressive conditions despite the grave risks – and we are here today to broach solutions that may well involve governments and journalists working in partnership.”-Mr. Melia
Mr. Melia commented Professor Mikhail Fedotov, Chairman of the Russian President’s Council on the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights for his analytical framework describing the various components of journalists’ safety, including physical, legal, informational, economic and psychological dimensions of safety.
According to Mr. Melia, Profesor Fedotov also spoke about the shared responsibility for journalists’ safety on the part of government, the media, businesses, civil society, and the journalists themselves.
“Let me be clear: Governments bear the fundamental responsibility to ensure that journalists are free to practice their professions without interference or reprisal by state authorities.”-Mr. Melia
Mr. Melia highlighted that basic governmental responsibility is an essential step in mustering the necessary political will to combat violence against journalists from any quarter.