We call on world leaders to rise against the killing of journalists. Let the leaders understand that… no democracy will thrive without a vibrant press.
The 2018 report by the Committee to Protect Journalists revealed that the number of journalists killed worldwide so far in retaliation for their work nearly doubled this year. The report issued on December 19 includes the killing of the Washington Post columnist, Jamal Khashoggi, a native of Saudi Arabia fiercely critical of its royal regime.
Khashoggi was critical of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s quest for total power and suppression of free speech. His death on October 2 inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul led to global outrage. According to the New York-based organisation, 34 journalists were killed in retaliation for their work as at December 14, while at least 54 were killed overall. In 2017, there were 18 retaliation killings among the 47 deaths documented by the committee.
Apart from retaliation killings, the report disclosed that many journalists were killed in combat or crossfire, or on other dangerous assignments. The deadliest country for journalists this year, according to the report, has been Afghanistan, where 13 journalists were killed, some in back-to-back blasts staged by suicide bombers belonging to militant Islamic State group.
Also, the media freedom group, Reporters Without Borders, said that the U.S. made the top five deadliest countries for journalists this year for the first time, with six dying, including four who were among five people killed by a gunman who opened fire in the offices of Maryland newspaper, Capital Gazette, on June 28.
Besides, the committee noted that the imprisonment of journalists has been on the rise. UNESCO also revealed that 71 journalists were murdered or killed worldwide while reporting, covering an incident or because of their status as journalists in 2017. In Nigeria and other African countries, some journalists had been killed in the course of the work and in total impunity.
We decry the incessant killing of journalists worldwide in the course of performing their duties. The killing of any journalist is, therefore, unacceptable. The killing of journalists because of the work they do is like killing the freedom of speech. We call on governments the world over and security agencies to give journalists additional protection to enable them perform their critical roles in the society.
In almost every democratic country, including Nigeria, the freedom of the press is guaranteed by the constitution. Section 39 (1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) clearly states that “every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference.”
Therefore, the killing of any journalist anywhere in the world is an affront to the constitutionally assigned role his job entails. We also agree with the late UN diplomat, Kofi Annan, that “freedom of the press ensures that the abuse of every other freedom can be known, can be challenged and even defeated.” In the same vein, we agree with the late U.S. Senator, John McCain, that “only truth and transparency can guarantee freedom.”
We call on world leaders to rise against the killing of journalists. Let the leaders understand that journalists contribute to freedom of expression, democracy and peace. No democracy will thrive without a vibrant press. There must be willingness on the part of governments to probe the incessant killing of journalists. There is need to unmask those behind the heinous killings and bring them to justice.
It is sad that most of the killings are never resolved. The killing of any journalist is a threat to democracy and free speech. We urge the Nigerian authorities to enhance the protection of journalists as they perform their constitutional roles in the society.
The incessant harassment of journalists in the country is unacceptable.
The politicians and the security agencies should see the roles of journalists as complementary to theirs in the task of nation building. Everything humanly possible must be done to protect journalists the world over considering the important roles they play in the society. We advise those offended by the report of any journalist to seek redress in the courts. Retaliatory killing of any journalist is akin to jungle justice and therefore condemnable. Let journalists be given the freedom to perform their duties without hindrance.