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62 journalists killed in 2020, just for doing their jobs

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In 2020 alone, according to UN cultural agency UNESCO, which works to protect media workers, 62 journalists were killed just for doing their jobs. Between 2006 and 2020, over 1,200 professionals lost their lives the same way. In nine out of ten cases the killers go unpunished. 

This year, because of statistics like these, the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists is highlighting the important role of prosecutorial services, not only in bringing killers to justice, but also prosecuting threats of violence. 

In a message marking the day, marked on Tuesday, the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, noted that many journalists had lost their lives while covering conflict, but the number of media workers killed outside conflict zones, has risen in recent years. 

“In many countries, simply investigating corruption, trafficking, human rights violations or environmental issues puts journalists’ lives at risk”, the UN Chief said.  

Countless threats 

For Mr. Guterres, “crimes against journalists have an enormous impact on society as a whole, because they prevent people from making informed decisions.” Journalists face countless other threats, ranging from kidnapping, torture and arbitrary detention, to disinformation campaigns and harassment, particularly in the digital sphere.  

“The COVID-19 pandemic, and the shadow pandemic of misinformation, has demonstrated that access to facts and science is literally a matter of life and death”, he said. “When access to information is threatened, it sends a disturbing message that undermines democracy and the rule of law.” 

Mr. Guterres also noted that women journalists are at particular risk.  

According to UNESCO’s recent 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.   

The Secretary-General urged Member States to stand in solidarity with journalists around the world, showing the political will needed to investigate and prosecute these crimes.  

Work in progress 

The Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, also marked the day with a message, saying that, for too many journalists, “telling the truth comes at a price.” 

According to her, “when attacks against journalists go unpunished, the legal   system and safety frameworks have failed everyone.” 

“States thus have an obligation to protect journalists and to ensure that the perpetrators of crimes against them are punished. Judges and prosecutors in particular, have an important role to play in promoting swift and effective criminal proceedings”, she said. 

In recent years, UNESCO has trained nearly 23,000 judicial officials, including judges, prosecutors and lawyers. The training covered international standards related to freedom of expression and the safety of journalists, and has placed a particular focus on issues of impunity. 

This year, the agency’s #EndImpunity campaign is highlighting some of the specific risks which journalists face, in their quest to uncover the truth.  

“Only by allowing the truth to be spoken can we advance peace, justice and sustainable development in our societies”, Mrs. Azoulay concluded.  

Commemorations in 2021 will also pave the way for the 10-year anniversary of the UN Plan of Action on Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, to be marked in 2022. 

Threats to women journalists 

To mark the day, the Permanent Missions of France, Greece and Lithuania and the Group of Friends for the Protection of Journalists, organized an event, at the UN headquarters, to debate the issue of hate-speech and the safety of women journalists. 

In a video message for the event, the President of the General Assembly, Abdulla Shahid, asked Member States to acknowledge that too often women journalists are disproportionately impacted.  

Mr. Shahid argued that “much of this is enacted by misogynists who want to make journalism unsafe for women.” 

“We have a collective obligation to stand up against this. Let us do our utmost to ensure that journalism remains safe for women, and bring an end to the harassment, bullying and threats that target their gender”, he added. 

New digital threats  

A group of UN experts on human rights also issued a statement, saying that “threats to the safety of journalists, far from abating, have taken new forms in the digital age, especially for women journalists.” 

According to them, the failure to investigate and address attacks online has real-life consequences for women journalists, affecting their mental and physical health. 

In extreme cases, online threats can escalate to physical violence and even murder, as the killing of the Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia showed. 

The group reiterated the call for a standing investigatory mechanism to be set up by the United Nations, drawing on independent international experts, including from the Special Procedures and the Treaty Bodies.  

In an increasingly digitalized world, they also asked Member States to ensure that all journalists are free to carry out their vital work free from threats, intimidation or any form of reprisal online or offline. 

The statement was issued by the Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, Irene Khan, the rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Morris Tidball-Binz, and the rapporteur highlighting violence against women, Reem Alsalem. 

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Europe accuses US of ‘profiting from war’

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Top European officials are furious with Joe Biden’s administration and now accuse the Americans of making a fortune from the war, while EU countries suffer. “The fact is, if you look at it soberly, the country that is most profiting from this war is the U.S. because they are selling more gas and at higher prices, and because they are selling more weapons,” one senior official told POLITICO.

Washington announced a $369 billion industrial subsidy scheme to support green industries under the Inflation Reduction Act that Brussels went into full-blown panic mode. “The Inflation Reduction Act has changed everything,” one EU diplomat said. “Is Washington still our ally or not?”

“We are really at a historic juncture,” the senior EU official said, arguing that the double hit of trade disruption from U.S. subsidies and high energy prices risks turning public opinion against both the war effort and the transatlantic alliance. “America needs to realize that public opinion is shifting in many EU countries.”

The biggest point of tension in recent weeks has been Biden’s green subsidies and taxes that Brussels says unfairly tilt trade away from the EU and threaten to destroy European industries. Despite formal objections from Europe, Washington has so far shown no sign of backing down.

As they attempt to reduce their reliance on Russian energy, EU countries are turning to gas from the U.S. instead — but the price Europeans pay is almost four times as high as the same fuel costs in America. Then there’s the likely surge in orders for American-made military kit as European armies run short after sending weapons to Ukraine.

Officials on both sides of the Atlantic recognize the risks that the increasingly toxic atmosphere will have for the Western alliance.

“The U.S. is following a domestic agenda, which is regrettably protectionist and discriminates against U.S. allies,” said Tonino Picula, the European Parliament’s lead person on the transatlantic relationship.

Cheaper energy has quickly become a huge competitive advantage for American companies, too. Businesses are planning new investments in the U.S. or even relocating their existing businesses away from Europe to American factories. Just this week, chemical multinational Solvay announced t is choosing the U.S. over Europe for new investments, in the latest of a series of similar announcements from key EU industrial giants.

International Affairs

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American view: ‘Putting an end to Volodymyr Zelensky’s follies!’

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“Zelensky comes out of the process smelling really bad as he has worked assiduously at blaming Russia, which clearly is not true,” – writes Philip Giraldi from Ron Paul Institute.

One week ago, he reminds, the Ukrainian government may have deliberately attacked neighbor Poland in an attempt to draw the NATO alliance into its war with Russia. The incident involved a missile that hit a grain processing site inside Poland and killed two farmers.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky immediately blamed Russia for the incident even though he surely must have known that the missile had been fired from Ukraine, meaning that he may have been using a so-called “false flag” to create a false narrative of what had occurred.

Given the fact that Zelensky has been saying and doing everything possible to draw the US and NATO into fighting Russia on his behalf, I believe that the missile strike was quite plausibly a deliberate “false flag” attempt to start a much broader war.

That such a war could easily turn nuclear reveals just how reckless Zelensky can be. One NATO country foreign diplomat based in Kiev told “The Financial Times”, that “This is getting ridiculous. The Ukrainians are destroying [our] confidence in them. Nobody is blaming Ukraine and they are openly lying. This is more destructive than the missile.”

There has been considerable speculation that the unregulated and unmonitored flow of billions of dollars of US taxpayer provided money through Ukraine’s notoriously corrupt government provided a perfect mechanism for large scale money laundering.

Even assuming that the Ukrainian missile strike on Poland was due to some malfunction, Zelensky comes out of the process smelling really bad as he has worked assiduously at blaming Russia, which clearly is not true.

He is using his contrived narrative to dramatically expand the war by creating a situation which would bring NATO directly into the conflict and which could easily go nuclear.

Indeed, he is attempting to compel NATO participation.

Beyond that, the US and NATO, burdened with such an “ally,” should take immediate steps to disengage from supporting the fighting and call for a negotiated settlement of the conflict.

To be sure, Zelensky is capable of anything and no lie is too mendacious for the former comedy actor who is now basking in the glow of his celebrity, writes Philip Giraldi.

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Iran’s Parliament approves bill on accession to SCO

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Iran’s Parliament has approved by a majority vote a bill on the Islamic republic’s accession to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), according TASS information.

205 parliamentarians voted for the bill, 3 voted against and 4 abstained.

On September 30, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi signed a bill on the country’s accession to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. According to the Young Journalists Club news agency, Raisi sent the bill to the country’s parliament for consideration.

Iran signed a memorandum on liabilities for joining the Organization.

The Organization’s summit in Uzbekistan on September 15-16 launched the procedure of admitting Belarus as a full-fledged member.

Egypt and Qatar were granted a dialogue partner status, while Bahrain, Kuwait, the Maldives, Myanmar, and Saudi Arabia began the procedure for obtaining this status.

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