Intensified attacks, new defences: Developments in the fight to protect journalists and end impunity

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Around the world, journalists endure countless attacks on their life, their dignity and the integrity of their work. These abuses affect the ability of the media to impart information to the public, and undermine the foundations of freedom of expression, which is enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

This report covers the period 2014-2018. It assesses trends in the safety of journalists and media professionals around the world and provides an update on the status of journalist killings, based on condemnations issued by the Director-General and recorded in the UNESCO Observatory of Killed Journalists.

Key findings include the rise in the number of journalist killings and other attacks, as well as the continued trend of widespread impunity. The report highlights the changing nature of violence against journalists, with more and more journalists being killed outside of conflict areas, and the growing prevalence of threats and harassment in the online sphere. It also highlights the specific risks being faced by women journalists, including online where they are disproportionately targeted by harassment and abuse.

The intensified attacks against journalists are being met with a growing commitment to monitoring, protection, prevention and prosecution mechanisms for the safety of journalists. New coalitions, involving Members States, civil society, the media and academia reflect a stronger and more coordinated response to the protection of journalists, in line with the logic of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. There is also increasing attention to the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) target 16.10 on ensuring public access to information and protecting fundamental freedoms, as well as a growing recognition of the need for a gender-sensitive approach to ensuring the safety of journalists.