Decrying the level of impunity in cases involving the murders of journalists, three international press freedom groups on Tuesday announced a people's tribunal aimed at holding perpetrators accountable and securing justice for reporters who have been killed for doing their jobs.
"The frequency of grave violations committed against journalists coupled with prevailing high levels of impunity is alarming."
—Almudena Bernabeu, prosecutor
Key witnesses will include family members of other international journalists who have been killed for their reporting, including Hatice Cengiz, the fiancée of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered in 2018 in Saudi Arabia.
"Since 1992, more than 1400 journalists have been killed, and in eight out of 10 cases where a journalist is murdered, the killers go free," the three organizations said in a statement. "The persistently high level of impunity perpetuates a cycle of violence against journalists, posing a threat to freedom of expression."
The opening hearing will be held in The Hague on November 2—the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists—and the tribunal will be convened until May 2022. In announcing the ongoing hearings, the groups noted Tuesday that it has been just 40 days since the last recorded murder of a journalist.
Christophe Deloire, secretary general of RSF, said the tribunal's aims go "beyond naming and shaming authorities which allow the horrifying impunity level."
"It’s about setting a concrete and useful example of what should be done by the judiciary," Deloire said.
International human rights lawyer Almudena Bernabeu will serve as the prosecutor at the people's tribunal.
"Freedom of expression is an essential human right," said Bernabeu. "And yet, the frequency of grave violations committed against journalists coupled with prevailing high levels of impunity is alarming. It is time that states are held accountable."
"The role of the tribunal is important to seek justice for these courageous journalists, but it also gives family members and colleagues an opportunity to speak up and share their own stories and the impact of these brutal murders," said Joel Simon, executive director of CPJ.
"Those left behind have worked tirelessly to keep the stories of these journalists alive, often in the face of threats and harassment," he added. "Their voices have been crucial in ongoing efforts to fight back against impunity."
This content originally appeared on Common Dreams - Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community and was authored by Julia Conley.