Truth Never Dies

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Journalism is virtually turning into one of the most endangered professions and its practitioners (journalists) fast becoming the world’s most susceptible and vulnerable species. Journalists and, indeed, media men are now targets for intimidation, victimisation, repression, suppression and, at times, outright murder perpetrated by tyrants, despots, oppressive and draconian regimes, using security operatives and state actors.
Cases abound the world over of individuals, organs and governments who, for fear of being exposed by the media, resort to all manner of criminalities to silence their critics and the opposition in a Gestapo operation.
Only recently, a prominent Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, a critic of Saudi government, was brutally murdered in a Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, over his hard stance on the policies of Saudi Arabian government, particularly crown prince Mahammed bin Salma. The murder, from investigation thus far, was premeditated.
Khashoggi’s case, indeed,is not an isolated one. Statistics reeled out by the United Nations and other global watch agencies indicate that between 2006 and 2017 (about 12 years), 1,010 journalists were killed worldwide for reporting news and bringing information to the public. In nine out of 10 of these reported cases, the perpertrators of the heinous crimes, the UN affirmed, go unpunished. perhaps, those responsible for the Saudi journalist’s death may also escape punishment or prosecution.
It is against this backdrop that the United Nations in resolution A|RSE|68|163 proclaimed November 2 every year as the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists. The date was chosen in commemoration of the assassination of two French journalists in Mali on November 2, 2013.
UNESCO, an arm of the UN, said the landmark resolution enjoins all member-states to do their utmost best to prevent violence against journalists and media workers so as to ensure accountability, bring to justice perpetrators of crimes against media men and ensure that victims have access to appropriate remedies. It also urged states to promote a safe and enabling environment for journalists to perform their work independently and without undue interference.
While marking this day, UN secretary general, Anthonio Guterres enthused: “On this day, November 2, I pay special tribute to journalists who do their jobs every day, despite intimidation and threats. Their work and that of their fallen colleagues remind us that truth never dies. Neither must our commitment to the fundamental right to freedom of expression.’’ Well said Guterres!
Only this year alone, about 88 journalists have been killed in various parts of the world for carrying out their indispensable and legitimate professional responsibilities. Many thousands more are attacked, harassed, detained, imprisoned or murdered daily on spurious allegations and charges without following due and legal process. This, indeed, is outrageous and should be discouraged in a civilised world where dictatorship and tyranny are out-fashioned.
It is a truism that when journalists are targeted, democracy and, in fact, the society as a whole pays a price as freedom of speech and expression which is cardinal to civil societies is jeopardised.
Government and the international community must, therefore, do the needful by protecting journalists to perform optimally within the ambit of the law and in case of breaches or unprofessional misconduct, such journalists should be tried and prosecuted through legal process.
In Nigeria, for instance, the media was awash with reports of Dele Giwa’s murder in 1986, Jones Abiri who was detained for two years without trial and other reported cases of impunity against journalists.
Data released by the International Press Centre (IPC) showed that, at least, two Nigerian journalists were killed in 2017 while 12 others and media organisations suffered various forms of assault from state actors and security operatives. Those slain include Famous Gioboro of Bayelsa State-owned radio, Glory FM 97.1 shot dead on April 16, 2016, and Lawrence Okejie of NTA, Benin, killed on July 8, this year. Fourteen others were either assaulted, threatened, arrested, kidnapped, killed or invaded in the last one year.
In 2018, 48 journalists have been killed around the world in the last six months of the year; according to international press Institute (IPI) Death Watch, a global network of editors. This is unacceptable!
The Tide strongly believes that reporting and journalism are, indeed, no crime against humanity. Let all people of goodwill stand up for journalists, for truth and for justice.
Truth must not be allowed to die!