Dutch government will invest in fighting impunity
Today, a majority of the House of Representatives agreed to the proposal that the Netherlands release funding to take the first steps in creating a task force for solving more murders of journalists. As we have recently seen in the murder of Shireen Abu Akleh and Yama Siawash, there currently is no mechanism in place to solve murders of journalists when the authorities of the country where the murder took place fail to take steps towards justice. This amendment to the Foreign Affairs budget was led by Sjoerd Sjoerdsma (D66), and co-signed by Agnes Mulder (CDA), Ruben Brekelmans (VVD) and Tom van der Lee (GroenLinks).
Free Press Unlimited sees this as an important step towards justice for murders of journalists. After all, 9 out of 10 murders worldwide are never brought to justice.
A Safer World For The Truth
With our project A Safer World For The Truth, we have long been advocating for greater international engagement against impunity for murders of journalists. Together with the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom, and in particular human rights lawyer and member of the panel Nadim Houry, we advocate for international initiatives such as the task force of experts. The amendment offers hope for journalists in danger and relatives of murdered journalists worldwide.
Task force for a quick response
The funding will allow the Netherlands, as co-chair of the Media Freedom Coalition (MFC), to start building an international team of legal, forensic and human rights experts that can act quickly when a journalist is murdered.
Due to political unwillingness and lack of capacity in countries where journalists are murdered, the masterminds and perpetrators often get away with it. Therefore, the international group of countries committed to media freedom as members of the MFC must do more to bring about justice for murdered journalists. The proposed task force, with at least four core roles of a forensic medical expert, a human rights investigator, a prosecutor and an experienced diplomat, can step in in contexts where the murder of a journalist often ends in impunity. In these 'hybrid' countries, with a mix of democratic institutions and authoritarian characteristics, such a task force can play an important role in securing evidence early, spurring investigations and providing technical and specialized support to the criminal investigation. At the same time, the upcoming pilot year should be used to garner diplomatic and financial support from other MFC member states.
Upon a successful launch, we hope that the government will decide to make funding for this long term. Free Press Unlimited is ready to share knowledge and expertise.