Journalists are essential to democracy, but they increasingly face intimidation, harassment, and violence. This prevents them from doing their jobs safely and effectively. Many journalists are jailed, killed, or face impunity for the crimes committed against them. According to UNESCO and other sources, at least 67 journalists have been killed in 2023 so far. The rate of impunity for the killings of journalists was around 86% in 2022, with a meagre 186 out of 1284 cases reportedly resolved between 2006-2022.
According to the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom (HLP), effective investigation of crimes against journalists is prevented by shortcomings in both investigative capacity and political will to pursue accountability. In this context, the HLP has recommended to set up an international investigative task force on abuses against journalists.
The new research study by the Asser Institute and the Center for International Criminal Justice at the Faculty of Law of the VU Amsterdam aims to assess the feasibility and practicability of such a task force.
The study will focus on three fundamental areas:
- Identifying the international legal gaps in prosecuting crimes against journalists.
- Determining whether an investigative task force could fill these gaps and if it would be effective in cooperative and uncooperative environments.
- Designing and supporting a potential international investigative task force to address the legal and practical obstacles to effective investigations and prosecutions of crimes against journalists.
The study will use a combination of research methods, including desk-based research, case studies, and interviews and consultations with relevant stakeholders. The final report will be completed in May 2024.