Citing the murder of Indian journalist Karun Misra, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said every time a journalist is killed anywhere in the world and the press is silenced, the rule of law and democracy get weaker.
“Across the global agenda, the media are critical. Yet journalists face growing efforts to silence their voices –through harassment, censorship and attacks. Journalists are not criminals. But they are often mistreated or even killed because they have the courage to expose criminal acts,” Ban said in his remarks upon receiving the German Media Prize in Baden Baden in southwestern Germany on Monday.
He said last year alone, 105 journalists lost their lives and while the murders of Western journalists by Islamic State and other violent extremists claimed global attention, 95 per cent of the journalists killed in armed conflict are locally based.
“Last month, Mexican journalist Moises Dagdug Lutzow was killed in his home in the city of Villahermosa. Elvis Ordaniza, a crime reporter in the Philippines, was shot. So was Karun Misra, a district bureau chief at the Jan Sandesh Times in India.”
“Each time a journalist is killed, each time the press is silenced, the rule of law and democracy get weaker. I encourage you to participate in the United Nations Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists,” Ban said.
Misra, the district bureau chief of Hindi language daily Jan Sandesh Times in Ambedkar Nagar, was shot in February by unknown assailants in the city of Sultanpur in the Uttar Pradesh.
Misra’s 13 February murder was condemned by UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova as well as by nonprofit organisation The Committee to Protect Journalists.
Ban stressed that during the past nine years as Secretary-General, he has been working hard to defend the press, both publicly and behind the scenes through discreet diplomatic efforts to free journalists who have been unjustly detained.
“We must all do our part to preserve the freedom of the press, civil society and human rights defenders to do their work,” he said.