The Hague: An independent panel of judges has called for prosecuting Sri Lanka, Syria and Mexico over allegations of human rights violations, according to a press release emailed to Dawn on Tuesday.

The People’s Tribunal on the Murder of Journalists was organised under the aegis of “A Safer World For The Truth” in collaboration with the Free Press Unlimited (FPU), Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

The tribunal put a spotlight on states’ obligation to protect journalists and to investigate attacks against them.

The panel of judges, which met at The Hague, called for an indictment by the prosecution of countries for their acts and omissions, including lack of investigation and lack of compensation for victims.

The tribunal, though symbolic in nature, aims to make a contribution to the “fight against impunity”.

Christophe Deloire, Secretary General of Reporters Without Borders, summed up the tribunal’s aims aptly: “The fact that we have this tribunal is the first sign of hope. Your tribunal does not have the capacity to put the perpetrators behind bars, but you have the capacity to name and shame.”

The indicted states were informed timely of their right to a defence, but none of the countries responded or offered a defence, the press release said.

“The judges called out the lack of action on the part of states and offered recommendations to states and the international community to take action.”

After the verdict, a ceremony took place to remember all journalists who have lost their lives in reprisal for their work.

Photos of journalists from all over the world, including Mexico, Afghanistan, Serbia and many other countries were brought to empty chairs representing all the journalists who killed in the line of duty.

Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2022

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