Over 102 journalists killed in 2016, says UNESCO

Not less than 102 journalists were killed in 2016, as murder has remained the most tragic form of censorship.

The Director-General of the United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Irina Bokova disclosed this yesterday in Abuja.

She described the incessant killing of journalists as unacceptable and urged the world to stand up for the safety of journalists

Bokova said the UNESCO was spearheading the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity with partners around the globe.

She urged stakeholders to sharpen their minds to defend the freedom of the press that is essential for justice and peace.

She called for the original, critical and well-researched journalism that is guided by high professional, ethical standards and a quality media education, combined with audiences that have the right media and information literacy skills.

The Regional Advisor, West Africa-Natural Sciences at UNESCO, Simone Grego represented her.

She said: “Facing a crisis of audience identity, journalism stands before a horizon where old challenges are merging with new threats. The media business is being shaken to the core with the rise of digital networks and social media.

“Citizen journalists are redrawing the boundaries of journalism. Media accountability and credibility are falling under question. In the online media, the lines are blurring between advertising and editorial material.”

She added that private actors are rising as key intermediaries, accompanied by new forms of private censorship, which are merging with deeper transformations that are affecting societies.

The UNESCO boss said when combined with the concept of “fake news,” questions are rising that go to the heart of free, independent and professional journalism.

According to her, the media must not only be a source of reliable information, it should provide a platform for a multitude of voices and mobilise new forces for tolerance and dialogue.

Also speaking, the Head of Political, Press and Information of the EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Pauline Torehall, noted that the rights and freedom of both the leaders and the governed are guaranteed, only when the press is allowed to play its strategic role as the Fourth Estate of the Realm.

Torehall stressed that the EU recognises that a free, pluralist and independent media is essential for the promotion and protection of freedom of opinion and expression.

She added that by facilitating the free flow of information and ideas on matters of public interest, independent media would constitute one of the cornerstones of a democratic society.

Meanwhile, Senate President Bukola Saraki has said that the pending Economic Reform bills would create over 7million jobs in the country, if passed into law by the National Assembly.


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