A spokesman for the United States State Department issued an announcement on Tuesday, commemorating the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, urging nations to take action to protect journalists around the world.
At a time when an increasing number of journalists have been murdered, via car bombs, being shot while entering their vehicles, and by other methods, around the world, the US placed its weight behind the effort to bring the killers to accountability.
“A free and independent press holds leaders accountable, protects the rights of citizens, and ensures our communities are well informed,” the statement reads. “In too many countries, journalists face the threat of violence or imprisonment for their reporting.
Sixty-five journalists killed across globe in 2020
“The United States condemns threats, harassment, and violence targeting journalists and media workers. Increasingly, these threats come from governments reaching beyond their borders, including through misuse of digital surveillance tools that track journalists’ communications and whereabouts, to constrain the ability of journalists to report on government corruption or repression.
“No members of the press should be threatened, harassed, physically attacked, or arrested for doing their job,” the statement declared.
The announcement said that the State Department echoed President Biden’s statement “applauding the Nobel Committee for honoring journalists Maria Ressa of the Philippines and Dmitry Muratov of Russia.
“Our need for accurate, fact-based reporting, open public conversation, and accountability has never been greater,” it noted. “Now, more than ever, we must stand against the increasing use of physical attacks, online harassment, intimidation lawsuits and regulatory pressures being used to silence media around the world.
Journalists Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2021 for their ongoing efforts to defend freedom of expression in their homes countries of the Philippines and Russia.
In its Friday afternoon announcement, the Nobel committee stated that the pair were”representatives of all journalists who stand up for this ideal.”
Ressa, the co-founder the news site Rappler, won the Nobel for using her journalistic skills to “expose abuse of power, use of violence and growing authoritarianism in her native country, the Philippines,” the Nobel Committee stated.
Rappler officials stated that they were “honoured and astounded” that their chief executive was the recipient of this year’s Nobel Prize for Peace, adding “It could not have come at a better time – a time when journalists and the truth are being attacked and undermined.”
Russian paper has had six of its journalists killed
In praise for the other Peace Prize winner for 2021, the Nobel committee said that Muratov, the co-founder and editor of the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, had spent his career defending freedom of speech in Russia under difficult and even dangerous conditions.
He went on to state that his winning of the Nobel was “retribution for Russian journalism, which is being repressed now.”
Muratov, the co-founder of Novaya Gazeta back in 1993, has been its editor since that time, continuing to publish its criticisms of President Vladimir Putin as one of the only such independent news outlets in the world of Russian journalism.
The Gazeta has investigated corruption in the ruling elite of Russia, bringing attention to those who have suffered from their actions. No less than six of its journalists — including Anna Politkovskaya, have been murdered for their work.
Politkovskaya was gunned down outside her home as she entered her vehicle several years ago.
Crimes against journalists take place even in Greece
Last April, prominent Greek journalist George Kairavaz, who investigated police corruption in the country, was brutally murdered on the morning of April 9, 2021 by two unknown individuals in the southern suburb of Alimos in Athens. His murder shocked not just Greece, but Europe and the world as well.
He was shot at least six times with a silenced weapon by two men on a moped outside his home. Karaivaz, who worked for private broadcaster Star TV and news blog bloko.gr, was fired upon as he got out of his car after work.
The journalist was known for his extensive exposes on the Greek police and crime.
Karaivaz has not been the the only journalist to have been murdered in Greece. On July 19, 2010, another prominent Greek journalist, Socrates Giolias, died after he was shot by –again — unknown perpetrators outside his house, in front of his pregnant wife.
Tuesday’s State Department announcement concluded by saying “On the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, we renew our resolve to advocate for an open press free from unjust restrictions, and to hold to account those who attack press freedom.
“We also remember those journalists and other media professionals who were killed in the line of duty. The Department is committed to advancing press freedom at home and abroad, and we urge other governments to hold accountable those who target journalists with harassment, intimidation, and violence.”