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Action on Scandal of Impunity Over Media Killings

Free Speech Groups Demand EU Action on "Scandal of Impunity" Over Media Killings

Press freedom groups from around the world today called on the European Union to join the fight to expose and combat "the scandal of impunity in the killing of journalists and media staff."

Participants at a global free _expression conference organised in Brussels by the International Freedom of _Expression Exchange (IFEX) Clearing House held a demonstration outside the Council of the European Union calling for an end to impunity and "justice for journalists."

In letters to the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, and to the President of the European Parliament Josep Borrell, the groups say that over the last 10 years more than 1,000 journalists and media staff have been killed, yet in only a handful of cases have suspects been brought to trial.

"It is a shameful and intolerable denial of justice to the victims, and to their families, friends and colleagues," they say. The protesters are urging the European Union to join a campaign to expose the lack of political will to back proper investigation of media killings. Citing a number of problem regions, the groups say that the problem is serious in countries like the Philippines, Haiti, Bangladesh, Mexico, and Colombia.

"There is no region of the world that is not touched by this crisis. Even in countries where democratic countries have responsibility - in Iraq, for instance, where there have been a number of media killings at the hands of United States soldiers which have not been properly investigated – we see impunity at work," they write.

Noting that the problem also affects countries bordering on the European Union, and many others with whom the European Union has treaty arrangements, the groups says European Union leaders must use their influence to more directly defend the core European values of justice and freedom.

"At a time when the numbers of media dead are steadily rising, when journalists are held hostage or languish in jails for exercising their profession, we urge you to speak out over this crisis and make clear that the European Union, in its dealings with other national governments, will insist that free _expression and an end to impunity are part of the non-negotiable framework for international trade and political relations," they say.

The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in over 110 countries.

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