Today is the International Day to end impunity for crimes against journalists. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders reiterates the importance of freedom of expression and media freedom to promote and protect human rights. Allowing journalists to work freely and independently, is a fundamental cornerstone for a well-functioning and open democracy. Apart from informing the public, they also have a supervisory role to hold those in power accountable and address wrongdoings.
Journalists can only fully play their role if they can work independently, in an environment with respect for freedom of expression, freedom of information and freedom of press.
Unfortunately, the critical role of journalists and media is too often undermined by intimidation and violence. Sometimes journalists risk life and limb to do their job and some even get killed. The shocking dead of de Saudi journalist J Khashoggi has been in the headlines for weeks, but also in Europe journalists have lost their lives in the past year. Furthermore we notice anti-press rhetoric in a number of countries, coupled with an increase in the number of press freedom violations and intimidation against journalists.
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Jamal Khashoggi, a columnist for the Washington Post, disappeared two weeks ago after he was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, where Turkish officials claim that he was dismembered and killed by a team of Saudi agents inside. According to audio recordings described by Turkish officials, a team of 15 Saudi agents seized Khashoggi as soon as he entered the consulate on Oct. 2 and proceeded to beat and torture him, eventually cutting off his fingers, dismembering and beheading him. Turkish officials say that a top Saudi doctor of forensics was also brought along for the dissection and disposal of the body. Khashoggi, 60, is one of the most well-known media figures in Saudia Arabia and a vocal critic of the Saudi government and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and is believed to have been targeted for his dissent, according to the New York Times. Saudi authorities have denied any involvement with Khashoggi’s disappearance, but American intelligence officials say they have growing circumstantial evidence that Crown Prince Mohammed was involved. (📷: Getty, AP) – #jamalkhashoggi #khashoggi #journalist #reporter #columnist #journalism #journalists #pressfreedom #freespeech #dissident #protest #demonstration #rally #signs #protestsigns #man #men #mohammadbinsalman #mbs #binsalman #disappearance #missing #victim #rip #torture #istanbul #turkey #saudiarabia #saudi
According to Reporters without Borders 61 journalists, 11 citizen journalists and 4 media assistants were killed in 2018 while exercising their job. Moreover, 167 journalists and 150 citizen journalists are in prison as we speak.
Minister Reynders calls upon all countries to do everything necessary to stop threats and attacks against journalists and to safeguard their security. To do so, a solid legal framework to protect the freedom of expression and media is essential. It is also important to track down and prosecute those who commit crimes against journalist, so perpetrators don’t get away unpunished.
Belgium continues to call for freedom of press and safety of journalists in bilateral contacts, within the EU and regional and multilateral organizations as the United Nations, the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe. Our capital Brussels hosts one of the highest numbers of foreign journalists globally, an openness we want to continue conveying to the rest of the world.