Protection of journalists continues to be a human rights priority in Lithuania
Lithuania expresses its deep concern over persistent violence against journalists and calls upon the international community to step up effort to enforce specific measures on the protection of journalists. According to the round-up published on 29 December 2015 by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), an international organisation that protects journalists’ rights, 110 journalists were killed this year. At least 67 of them were targeted because of their work or were killed while reporting.
The fact that two thirds of the journalists killed in 2014 were killed in war zones, while in 2015 two thirds of the deaths were in countries “at peace”, is a particular cause for concern.
The failure to reduce the scale of targeted violence that journalists face is indicative of the failure of the initiatives so far taken to protect media personnel. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), at least one journalist is killed every week, and as much as 95 per cent of the perpetrators remain unpunished. Consistent support for strengthening the rule of law, democratic institutions, and human rights is needed in order to put an end to impunity. In cases where states fail to prosecute those responsible for crimes against journalists, international mechanisms can be applied, the International Criminal Court included.
Lithuania supports the creation of the position of a Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General for the Safety of Journalists, who would be tasked with monitoring compliance by UN member states with their international obligations, including implementation of the Security Council resolutions.
Protection of journalists continues to be a human rights priority in Lithuania. The resolution on the protection of journalists in armed conflict which urges states to conduct independent and effective investigations of crimes against journalists thus fight against impunity was submitted by Lithuania and adopted unanimously by the UN Security Council in May this year. Lithuania will focus on the issues of protecting freedom of expression and journalists’ safety during its membership of the UNESCO Executive Board for the period 2016-2019.