A lack of action in bringing journalists’ killers to justice often leads to more murders, the United Nations Education and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) has warned.

In a letter to this paper, Unesco’s assistant director-general for communications said impunity in cases where journalists were murdered could signal the breakdown of judicial systems, the rule of law and democracy.

Unesco’s action plan on the matter emphasises that impunity perpetuates the cycle of violence against journalists and must be addressed.

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The safety of journalists and the struggle against impunity for their killers were essential to preserving the fundamental right to freedom of expression, Unesco said. The UN organisation added that the majority of such killings went unpunished – in more than nine out of 10 cases, the people who murdered journalists were not prosecuted.

Unesco’s statistics show a journalist is murdered every four days. In the past 11 years, 930 journalists have been killed.

The family of slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia has harshly criticised what it called the culture of impunity allowed to “flourish” under the Labour government.

The majority of such killings go unpunished

Thousands took to the streets in Valletta on Sunday, calling for the resignations of Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar and Attorney General Peter Grech.

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Prime Minister Joseph Muscat on Monday said that he fully supported both men.

Unesco urged media organisations to work together to thoroughly investigate and prominently publicise crimes to silence journalists. It was only when journalists could work in a safe and independent environment that there could be a free flow of information for all citizens to access, the organisation said.

Unesco’s international day to end impunity for crimes against journalists will be this November 2. It said this would be a unique occasion to reflect upon the tremendous consequences that impunity for attacks against journalists carried around the world.

Sixteen international press advocacy groups last week demanded an independent investigation into the killing. They also requested protection for Ms Caruana Galizia’s family members and for other Maltese journalists who had been under threat.

The advocacy groups also called for measures to protect the environment for independent and critical journalism to ensure that reporters could work freely.

Lost for their words

▪ In 11 years, 930 journalists have been killed.
▪ A journalist is murdered every four days.
▪ Over 90 per cent of the killings go unpunished.