Impunity for attacks on journalists has a chilling effect on society

Source The United Nations

Find out what the United Nations is doing on the safety of journalists.


Media – Latin America and the Caribbean continues to be the region with the highest number of murders of journalists, according to the 2022 UNESCO Director-General’s Report on the Safety of Journalists and the Danger of Impunity.

Since 1993, more than 1,600 journalists have been killed for reporting the news and bringing information to the public. In nine out of ten cases the killers go unpunished, according to the UNESCO observatory of killed journalists. Impunity leads to more killings and is often a symptom of worsening conflict and the breakdown of law and judicial systems.

While killings are the most extreme form of media censorship, journalists are also subjected to countless threats – ranging from kidnapping, torture and other physical attacks to harassment, particularly in the digital sphere. Threats of violence and attacks against journalists, in particular, create a climate of fear for media professionals, impeding the free circulation of information, opinions and ideas for all citizens. Women journalists are particularly impacted by threats and attacks, notably by those made online. According to UNESCO’s discussion paper, The Chilling: Global trends in online violence against women journalists, 73 percent of the women journalists surveyed said they had been threatened, intimidated and insulted online in connection with their work.

In many cases, threats of violence and attacks against journalists are not properly investigated. This impunity emboldens the perpetrators of the crimes and at the same time has a chilling effect on society, including journalists themselves. UNESCO is concerned that impunity damages whole societies by covering up serious human rights abuses, corruption, and crime. Read and share the stories of killed journalists #TruthNeverDies.

On the other hand, justice systems that vigorously investigate all threats of violence against journalists send a powerful message that society will not tolerate attacks against journalists and against the right to freedom of expression for all.

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