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Attacks on journalists go unpunished: officials

Published on 04/06/2010

Attacks against journalists in war zones are rarely prosecuted and the majority are carried out with impunity, the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva heard Friday.

“We must see to it that international norms are respected on the ground and that those who do not respect them are punished,” Robin Geiss, legal advisor at the International Committee of the Red Cross, told the council during a debate on laws to protect journalists.

UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kyung-wha Kan expressed alarm at the “high number of crimes committed with impunity” against journalists.

“Journalists play a vital role in conflict zones. It is necessary to take active measures to apply international law,” the commissioner said.

In 94 percent of cases, the perpetrators of crimes against reporters were not prosecuted, added Frank La Rue, UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Opinion and Expression.

Representatives of around 20 countries took part in the debate, during which France also highlighted the case of two French television journalists held in Afghanistan for more than five months by the Taliban.