UN experts note ‘toxic nature of political incitement against journalists’, demand transparent investigation into Khashoggi’s killing

Independent, UN-appointed group of human rights experts have called on nations to take firm steps to ensure accountability for attacks against scribes and called ‘political incitement’ to violence against journalists as ‘toxic’, PTI reported.

The experts include David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; and Bernard Duhaime, Chair of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances,

A significant highlight was the killing of Saudi dissident journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.

Khashoggi entered the building on October 2 to obtain documentation certifying he had divorced his ex-wife. He was not seen since.

Saudi Arabia has admitted that the Saudi critic died in a fight inside its Istanbul consulate – after weeks of consistent denials that it had anything to do with his disappearance.

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Turkish media have reported Khashoggi was killed and dismembered based on recordings from the consulate. They say he died at the hands of a 15-member assassination squad from Saudi Arabia.

The UN group condemned the response of UN member states, the international community and the United Nations itself, for the failure to address his enforced disappearance and apparent murder.

“The only way forward is to establish an independent, transparent and credible investigation into his murder, one authorised by and reporting to the United Nations. Anything short of a complete investigation, recognised as such by the international community, will make a mockery of government claims of commitment to the safety of journalists,” they said.

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Ahead of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, marked on November 2, the experts said in a statement that “these last weeks have demonstrated once again the toxic nature and outsized reach of political incitement against journalists, and we demand that it stop.”

They strongly urged nations to take firm steps to ensure accountability for violence and attacks against journalists, reversing and resisting the appalling trend of impunity.

The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) says that, between 2006 and 2017, over 1,000 journalists were killed for reporting the news and bringing information to the public; an average of one death every four days.

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In nine out of ten cases the killers go unpunished, and this impunity, say the UN experts, triggers further violence and attacks: perpetrators must be brought to justice, and victims and families should have access to remedies.

High-level international commitments already exist, such as a resolution on the safety of journalists, adopted by the Human Rights Council in September. The UN experts called on world leaders to implement such resolutions and end their role in inciting hatred and violence against the media.

On this year’s International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, the UNESCO is launching a new campaign, Truth Never Dies’, to raise awareness of this situation, and is calling for media partners to support the initiative by publishing stories by, and about, journalists killed as a result of their work.

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