Journalists are frequently targeted by criminal gangs, sectarian extremists and repressive states for their work; when people silence journalists, they often do so with impunity.
This year began with a tragic reminder of the threat faced by journalists. In January alone journalists were murdered in Africa, the Americas, Europe and the Middle East, including the devastating attack in Paris on journalists working for Charlie Hebdo. They were killed for shining a light on corruption, expressing their views and satirising ideas. Sadly these crimes were only the beginning this year.
What often compounds these crimes is the lack of any attempt to bring the perpetrators to justice. These crimes against journalists are frequently ignored and rarely end in a conviction either due to incompetence or the corruption of officials.
No one should be terrorised into self-censorship or a betrayal of the fundamental rights and behaviours which are central to our values and way of life. Both the tyrant and the terrorist fear the journalist’s pen; this is why the commitment to a free press is an unwavering British value.
A free media plays a vital role in a functioning democracy. We mark today to highlight why we cannot let those who would seek to undermine it do so, and that this impunity must end.