UN's Guterres: Violence against journalists must not become 'new normal'
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The Eiffel Tower in Paris went dark on Thursday as part of a protest to call for an end to violence against journalists in the aftermath of the killing of Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
Reporters Without Borders, a press freedom watchdog, organised the protest in the French capital to coincide with the UN’s International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, marked annually on November 2.
The Paris event comes a month after Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, in a case that has shocked the world and soured relations between Riyadh and some of its closest allies.
Christophe Deloire, secretary-general of Reporters Without Borders, demanded the "whole truth" on what happened to the former Washington Post columnist.
“We demand the governments that are able to exercise pressure on Saudi Arabia to maintain and even increase this pressure, so that press freedom can be introduced in Saudi Arabia, and the more than 20 journalists that are arbitrarily detained in Saudi Arabia are released," Deloire told reporters.
Attending the Paris protest, Fabiola Badawi, a former colleague of Khashoggi's, said she hoped his tragic death could at least spur governments into taking action to protect other journalists.
The UN’s press freedom day was instituted five years ago in the aftermath of the murder in northern Mali of French journalists Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, two veteran journalists who worked for FRANCE 24’s sister radio RFI.
Marking the event with a video message on Thursday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the killing of journalists around the world for doing their job was “outrageous” and must not become the “new normal”.
In just over a decade, some 1,010 journalists have been killed for reporting the news and in nine out of 10 cases the perpetrators are never brought to justice, according to UN figures.
Many thousands more have been "attacked, harassed, detained or imprisoned on spurious charges, without due process", Guterres added, paying tribute to the reporters in the field “who do their jobs every day despite intimidation and threats”.
The UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution in September, calling on the international community to promote strategies that protect journalists and bring perpetrators of violence against the media to justice.