Three press freedoms groups have launched a new media tribunal in The Hague this week to raise awareness of the issue of the murder of journalists.
The press freedom groups spearheading the initiative are Free Press Unlimited, the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters without Borders.
The advocacy groups have launched the People’s Tribunal of the Murder of Journalists. It aims to name and shame offenders. The groups have created the Tribunal because it believes that states are not living up to its responsibilities to hold perpetrators accountability.
The Tribunal does not have the power to arrest suspects, to sentence or to punish but it does have the ability to collect evidence.
The Tribunal derives its legitimacy from some of the world’s top legal experts and journalists.
The tribunal will span 6 months timeframe after which a verdict will be delivered. It will involve 5 hearings.
The lead prosecutor of the Tribunal is the renowned human rights lawyer Almudena Bernebau. A panel of 9 judges will adjudicate the cases.
The 2021 Nobel Peace prize winner Maria Ressa is among the journalists who will testify about the threats she faced as a journalist in the Philippines.
The Tribunal focuses on three specific cases: a case in Nabil al Sharbaji of Syria, Lasantha Wickrematunge of Sri Lanka and Miguel Angel Lopez Velasco of Mexico.
In all these cases it is unlikely that local courts will prosecute these murders.
Journalists are increasingly under attack and not just in situations of war but in fighting corruption in various parts of the world.
In total more than 1400 journalists have been murdered since 1992.
A new report by UNESCO suggests a staggering six journalists have been killed worldwide every month in the past five years.
Over the last 30 years very little accountability has flown from these deaths.
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