THE INTERNATIONAL Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has urged international development institutions and donor agencies to make respect for press freedom and media protection among key criteria in providing aid to countries with high levels of violence against journalists.

“… We urge the United Nations (UN), its agencies and other international institutions such as the World Bank and IMF (International Monetary Fund) to take all necessary measures, including financial sanctions, to bring to an end impunity for killings of journalists who play a public role,” said IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger.

“Impunity is an attack on freedom of expression and, ultimately, denies fundamental human rights to the public. Now is the time for everyone to take their responsibilities and act accordingly,” he added.

In a news release, the IFJ cited the suspension of a European aid to Sri Lanka in 2009 as one good case in “linking development and economic aid to genuine commitment to respect journalists’ rights…”

It said that during that time, the press freedom organizations were able to make “a successful case for such measures by the European Union (EU), leading to the suspension of an economic partnership with Sri Lanka in 2009.”

“(The IFJ) therefore believes that targeted financial sanctions can contribute to the fight against impunity for journalists’ killers,” the group explained.

This year, advocates of freedom of expression throughout the world are focusing attention on Mexico, the Philippines, Yemen and Ukraine owing to the gravity of the situation of impunity in these countries.

On Nov. 23, all eyes will be on the Philippines as the world commemorates the sixth year after the grisly Maguindanao massacre that killed 58 people, 32 of whom were journalists and media workers.

It was the worst single attack on the press. Not one has been convicted yet for the crime and some of the principal suspects are out on bail.

(Excerpts from Tie aid to media protection, int’l media body urges donors)

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