Crimes against journalists are grossly overlooked in the judicial system. Killers of scribes often go unpunished. According to the UN, no less than 1,200 journalists were killed all over the world in the last one and half decades. Most of the murder cases are pending, with only one in 10 criminals being punished by courts of law.
We observe the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists today by condemning these injustices. #TruthNeverDies even in the face of worsening judicial and political systems.
Violence and crimes against journalists
Journos in conflict-ridden areas and war zones risk their lives every day to bring the truth to global citizens. Investigative reporters expose scandals in business and politics despite being threatened with their lives and the safety of their loved ones. Then there are reporters who are kidnapped, assaulted and harassed for speaking out against social evils. Female reporters are victims of sexual assault, on the field and in newsrooms.
When crimes against journalists go unpunished, it is like giving the criminals a free pass to continue their nefarious activities while the truth-seekers are silenced out of fear for their safety. There is a clamp down on free speech. The perpetrators have a veritable license to kill in such a scenario. At a time when regular citizens are trolled on social media for unpopular opinions, where do reporters stand a chance to make hard talk?
What is the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists?
The International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists came into being in the year 2013 when the UN General Assembly passed a Resolution to strongly condemn this culture of impunity. November 2 was chosen as the special date, because it was the day two French journalists were assassinated.
The historic Resolution strongly speaks out about crimes against journalists and media persons. It also urges Member Nations to have more accountability so that the criminals can be brought to book and the surviving victims can rehabilitate. The Resolution asks countries to let the media do its work without interference from the government.
Fatal crimes against journalists in India
Legendary crime reporter J Dey (Jyotirmoy Dey) was an encyclopaedia on the Indian underworld. His books and investigative reports for Indian Express and Mid Day are the stuff of dreams for a movie scriptwriter today, and ironically still, stranger than fiction.
J Dey was shot dead in broad daylight in Mumbai in June 2011. Convicted gangster Chhota Rajan got life imprisonment for the crime. The court said he’d got J Dey killed by his men, Apparently, Chhota Rajan was upset because J Dey had portrayed him as a small-time crook in a book on gangsters that he was working on.
Gauri Lankesh was a respected journalist and print editor. She was murdered by three unidentified men in Bangalore back in 2017. Lankesh was a vitriolic writer. She was against right-wing extremism and communal violence and would write about these issues in her Kannada tabloid called Gauri Lankesh Patrike. There was a huge outcry after her death to bring to book the people behind her murder.
Shubham Mani Tripathi
Journalist Shubham Mani Tripathi was recently murdered on June 19, 2020 in the infamous Unnao district. The slain reporter was a passionate investigative media person. He would bring to light corruption in property and land disputes for the Hindi newspaper, Kampu Mail. He was killed in the same way as J Dey and Gauri Lankesh, by two men on a motorcycle near his home. Tripathi was being targetted and feared for his life. He even talked about it in his social media posts before his murder.
Crimes against journalists should be condemned at the highest level because they are double-edged; they silence truth-seekers and prevent others from investigating social evils.