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44 Journalists Killed, Many Attacked, Imprisoned Or Missing In 2021 – UNESCO

The European Union, EU, have on Tuesday revealed that forty-four journalists had so far in 2021 been killed, many more are attacked, while some are either unlawfully imprisoned, or missing in the society.

Tuesday was the world 2021 International Day to End the Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists.

This was made known by EU Delegation Representative, Wynyfred Egbuson, during a media roundtable with the theme ‘Countering threats of violence against Journalists in Nigeria: The role of CSOs and other non-state actors to commemorate the Day in Abuja.

Egbuson said: “UNESCO has reported an increasing number of attacks and threats against journalists. 44 journalists have so far been killed in 2021, many more are attacked, unlawfully imprisoned, or missing leaving their families awaiting news of their faith, sometimes for years.

“We also see more attempts to cut the space for free media around the world by systemically undermining their credibility.”

She also said the media coming from attacks from state and non-state actors does not portray any nation in good light, and that EU will continue to stand for a free press.

She pointed that such attacks are a serious violation of human rights, and also perpetrators deprive citizens’ rights to information.

Earlier in an address of welcome, Executive Director, International Press Centre, IPC, Lanre Arogundade, disclosed that through monitoring and advocacy activities in the last 4 years (2016-2020) on press freedom and safety of journalists, a total of 150 press freedom violations and attacks recorded in Nigeria.

“And as we mark the year 2021 IDEI, the whereabouts of Vanguard journalist and reporter in the House of Representatives, Tordue Salem, remains worrisomely unknown.

“This year alone, several acts of violence have been perpetrated on journalists and media professionals in the country with the most recent resulting from the #EndSARS one year anniversary protest in October”, he stated.

He also called for urgent collaborative intervention is necessary between the media, the CSOs and other non-state actors to develop an Action Plan on defending press freedom and engaging state institutions.

“The collaboration should also promote a safe and enabling environment for journalists to practice without threats.

“When the media profession is faced with threats including physical attacks, arrests, imprisonment, kidnapping, torture, murder, censorship online/offline, etc., a climate of fear envelopes the media landscape and the free flow of credible information is hindered”, he added.

Also speaking was the National President, Nigerian Union of Journalists, NUJ, Chris Isiguzo, who lamented the treatment journalists are given, especially by security agencies.

Isiguzo said: “Threats and violence against media practice is ion the increase, increase based on repression.

“As we speak for 20 days a journalist has gone missing and the government seems not worried. It is worrisome, and a responsible government must know that its primary responsibility of governance is to ensure the security of lives and property.

“If the people that you are presiding over are no longer safe that means there is a problem, and you just have to find a way of addressing them.

“The same time we take the security agents task because oftentimes they seem to see journalists as competitors. We are not competitors, rather collaborators because when we collaborate, the nation benefits but when we compete, the nation suffers.

“I want to appeal to them let them begin to see journalists as partners in progress, especially at this critical time when insecurity has practically become the issue across the country, and rise to the occasion to deal with these competing issues so that we can map out a way forward for Nigeria and democracy.

According to him, last year was 62, and between 2006 and 2020, 1,200, and Nigeria has an appreciable percentage of it, which also signpost the very harrowing terrible, unfriendly environment journalists operate.

“Somebody even said the present President of Nigeria as a military leader was even much benevolent when you do a comparative analysis of then and now, and it simply means democracy itself is in danger if nothing is urgently done to check this rising wave.

“By the time we bring these issues to the fore it will be an opportunity to challenge government because we cannot have a democracy that thrives whose press is not guaranteed when journalists are every day being harassed, intimidated, kidnapped, killed, and incarcerated, there is no democracy.”

He also expressed concern over the current environment journalists work in as it is no more conducive and a threat to democracy in Nigeria.

“As we speak for 20 days a journalist has gone missing and the government seems not worried. It is worrisome, and a responsible government must know that its primary responsibility of governance is to ensure the security of lives and property.

“If the people that you are presiding over are no longer safe that means there is a problem, and you just have to find a way of addressing them”, he pointed.

He also called on security agencies to collaborate with journalists and see them as partners in progress.

“The same time we take the security agents task because oftentimes they seem to see journalists as competitors. We are not competitors, rather collaborators because when we collaborate, the nation benefits but when we compete, the nation suffers.

“I want to appeal to them let them begin to see journalists as partners in progress, especially at this critical time when insecurity has practically become the issue across the country, and rise to the occasion to deal with these competing issues so that we can map out a way forward for Nigeria and democracy”, he said.

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