Statement on International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists

Statement on
International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists

Syrian media workers and many of their colleagues from different nationalities have persevered in their efforts to document what is going on in Syria since 2011.  They paid a high price to follow the truth and shed light on it. They have been subjected to  hundreds of violations carried out by different sides of the conflict. 419 media activists have been killed so far.

On the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, the Syrian Journalists Association emphasizes that Syria is one of the worst countries in the issue of impunity for crimes. No case has been ever documented by our side in involving the prosecution of those who committed crimes against journalists. We do believe, depending on the records of the Syrian Center for Journalistic Freedoms, that most violations against journalists have been committed as intentional systematic acts. Assad’s regime forces are the main offender in such acts, through which at least 296 media workers have lost their lives since 2011 until end of October 2017. It is worth noting that 29 out of the 296 media workers were tortured and killed in Assad’s detention centers.  

Impunity for crimes restricts freedom of media work. It clearly increases crimes against journalists and causes a state of panic to them. Impunity for crimes encourages criminals to continue their violations not only against journalists but also against the community. As a result, justice as a value will be in danger and civilians will lose their confidence in the legal system of the community. Hence, extremism, violence and acts of revenge will be escalating and international peace and safety might be at risk. 

Unfortunately, all calls to initiate cases for prosecution and lawsuits against war criminals in Syria have not met with the suitable response by the international community. However, we do believe in the importance of the new mechanism adopted by the international community to prosecute war criminals in Syria. We hope evidence will be collected as soon as possible to be presented to the courts which will judge in the cases of crimes committed against media workers.   

As the Syrian Journalists Association believes that there is  no peace without justice, it stresses the importance of ensuring no impunity for crimes. It demands that victims should be served justice and get their rights in suitable fair ways. It also reiterate its calls to ensure a safe environment for media workers so they can carry out their work independently and without any pressure and direct or indirect threat.

2/11/2017                                                            

The Syrian Journalists Association