End impunity: Killers of journalists must be punished

November is a month for remembrance, with All Souls (the Day of the Dead ) and commemorations on Armistice Day for those who died in the two World Wars. There is also a special day for journalists who were killed whilst doing their jobs. These are the ones who were not killed in the heat of battle but murdered in cold blood, in order to silence them and stop their investigations. UNESCO has designated 2nd November as their special day, and ECPMF supports the events held in Rome and Brussels by our partner organisation Ossigeno per l’informazione.

Alberto Spampinato at the Brussels Press Club Pictured from right; Riccardo Guitterez, General Secretary of the EFJ, Maroun Labaki, President of Brussels Press Club, Alberto Spampinato, Ossigeno, Gabriele Bertolli, EU DG-Connect, Paolo Luigi Grosso, director of the Italian Cultural Institute. (photo: Ossigeno)

At the Brussels Press Club, Ossigeno’s Alberto Spampinato presented copies of the new commemorative panel that remembers 28 Italian journalists who were killed, allegedly by the mafia.

One of the 28 is Giovanni Spampinato, brother of Alberto. His death in 1972 was a driving force behind the foundation of Ossigeno, a Rome-based monitoring and training centre.

Refuge for journalists facing death threats

ECPMF also offers practical help, -before it is too late - for media workers, documentary makers, bloggers, photographers and journalists who may fear for their lives and the safety of their families.

We urge the authorities responsible to actively pursue and prosecute those who are guilty of killing journalists. And we encourage all journalists under threat to get in touch with us, so we can offer help, legal assistance and perhaps a safe place to live and work through our Journalist in Residence Programme.“

ECPMF Project Manager Jane Whyatt

Self censorship

As Italian journalist Andrea di Pietro explains, writing on the Ossigeno website,  the failure to prosecute those who assassinate journalists does not only affect those who are killed and their loved ones, but all journalists everywhere. For the death of a journalist who asks too many questions, or a photographer who witnesses wrongdoing, sends a powerful signal to all media workers: beware.

Storry map no impunity Recordes killings and statuts of judical inquiries 2006-2015 (screenshot: UNESCO)

UNESCO reports that more than 800 journalists worldwide have been killed because of their media work in the past ten years. Eight of them died in France, at the heart of Western Europe, where the Charlie Hebdo office was the target of an attack triggered by satirical cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad. A UNESCO storymap shows each case and intensive monitoring continues all the year round.

This Day to end impunity is one more reason for citizens all over the world to ask themselves: do we really want press freedom? And if so, we have to protect journalists and punish individuals and institutions who do them harm and suppress media freedom."

Henrik Kaufholz (Chair of the ECPMF)


ECPMF's Journalists-in-Residence programme offers help to those who are in danger and we want to inform as many people as possible about it so that the message reaches those who are in need. The next deadline to apply is 8 November 2016.

We offer a safe home in Leipzig, Germany, a scholarship, health insurance, psychological support and digital security training. In addition, the JiR is very welcome to work with us at the ECPMF, tell his/her story to media and our networks to get his/her own case of media freedom violation known.

Professional media workers (not only journalists) from EU countries and candidate accession states (like Turkey) are eligible to apply for the programme. Depending on the case, the stay can last from 3 to 12 months. Good knowledge in English or German is required.

You can get more information on our programme website.

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