As Namibian journalists stand in solidarity with colleagues globally on the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists in Windhoek today, the Editors' Forum of Namibia (EFN) and the Namibia Media Trust (NMT) have called on the United Nations (UN) to "protect the guardians of truth".
Journalists and editors from various media houses will gather in Windhoek today for a silent march against impunity, organised by the Namibia Media Trust in collaboration with fesmedia Africa.
In a statement yesterday EFN secretary general Ronelle Rademeyer paid tribute to journalists killed in the line of duty.
The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 2 November as the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists in commemoration of the assassination of two French journalists in Mali on 2 November 2013.
Rademeyer said the EFN salutes all journalists who continue to present the world with reliable information and news despite danger and risk to their lives, often manifested in repeated arrests and long prison terms.
"Official figures of the UN show close to 1 200 journalists were killed globally, including in countries such as Somalia and South Sudan, for reporting the news and bringing information to the public in the past 14 years (2006-2019)," she said.
According to the UN, in nine out of 10 cases, the killers go unpunished - resulting in impunity, which fuels more killings.
"These figures do not include the many more journalists who suffer non-fatal attacks on a daily basis including torture, arbitrary detention, intimidation, and harassment. Women journalists face specific risks, including sexual attacks," Rademeyer said.
NMT director Zoé Titus says Namibian journalists cannot turn a blind eye while colleagues elsewhere are killed, languish in jails and live in fear of persecution simply for doing their jobs.
"It is an opportunity to jointly focus our attention on journalists who are being persecuted, forcibly disappeared or killed - with priority given to the numerous unsolved crimes against journalists," she says.
Titus says journalists have to reflect on the fact that the pervasive nature of impunity is not something that emerges suddenly.
"The culture of impunity intensifies over a lengthy period of time. People in positions of power and authority are fuelled by breaches of conduct that continue unchecked and remain unsolved," she says.
Titus says for Namibia to stand in solidarity on home soil is vital and acts as a lifeline to suffering journalists globally.
"Standing in solidarity is one of the most powerful countermeasures to an excess of power. Collective continental voices remind brazen governments that state-sanctioned misdeeds will not go unnoticed. It becomes an even more powerful tool as it reverberates across borders and continents.
"So today, we say to colleagues everywhere . . . continue to speak truth to power. Be bold in your efforts to uncover wrongdoing. When they come for you, remember, you are not alone. We stand with you," she says.
Between 2018 and 2019, Unesco recorded 156 killings of journalists worldwide.