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OHCHR and the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity

About safety of journalists and human rights

Freedom of the media is essential to enable democratic, free and participative societies. Journalists and the media are crucial to ensure transparency and accountability for public and governmental authorities. Yet media freedom and the safety of journalists are under threat around the globe.

In recent years, OHCHR has observed a rise in the scale and number of attacks against the physical safety of journalists and media workers, as well as of incidents affecting their ability to exercise freedom of expression, including threats of prosecution, arrest, imprisonment, denial of journalistic access and failure to investigate and prosecute crimes against them.

OHCHR's work on safety of journalists

OHCHR is mandated to promote and protect the effective enjoyment by all of all human rights. This includes the right to freedom of expression, including media freedom, and other rights of journalists and media workers. OHCHR's work on these issues includes the following:

  • Implementing General Assembly and Human Rights Council mandates on the safety of journalists
  • Implementing, jointly with the UNESCO and via a wide consultation process, the UN Plan of Action and contributing to its implementation, as well as co-chairing with UNESCO the UN Network
  • Monitoring and reporting on violations
  • Raising awareness through public statements and letters, including on individual cases and on media clampdowns; engagement with Member States, with international and regional organizations and civil society organizations; and participation in or organization of events, including World Press Freedom Day, International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, conferences and roundtables
  • Providing technical advice through OHCHR country and regional presences, for example on setting up and operating a specific protection mechanism, and training and capacity building
  • Engaging with relevant Human Rights Council special procedure mandates and human rights treaty bodies on the safety of journalists and media freedom.
  • Reporting under SDG indicator 16.10.1 as custodian agency

Latest reports and publications

Report on the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity (2019)

Report on the available mechanisms concerned with ensuring the safety of journalists (2018)

Report on the safety of women journalists (2017)

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