Monday, April 30, 2007The 1998 murder of journalist Tara Singh Hayer did not take place in a remote village in the Punjab. Hayer was killed in his Surrey, British Columbia garage. More than eight years later, his murder remains unsolved. It's a Canadian example of the killing of a journalist with impunity-exemption from punishment-the theme of this year's World Press Freedom Day on May 3. The killing of more than 80 journalists in 2006 made it the deadliest year on record. Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) Executive Anne Game says "the added tragedy is that in almost all of these cases, the killers and the masterminds behind the killings continue to walk free." Statistics show that in 85 per cent of these cases no one will be held to account. Impunity within a country has a domino effect, encouraging others to commit crimes, knowing that they will also go unpunished. This year, CJFE asks Canadians to mark May 3 by learning more about the people behind these terrible statistics. The men and women who lost their lives so that they might give others a voice deserve our remembrance, but they also deserve action. Regimes where impunity flourishes must be held responsible. CJFE invites Canadians to visit a new impunity feature on the CJFE website which includes reports on impunity in Eritrea, Ethiopia, the Philippines and Latin America. To learn more about the issue of impunity click here. In each of these regions, journalists are being threatened, attacked, killed and disappeared. This occurs sometimes with the silent complicity of corrupt governments and local officials - at other times the government is ineffective or unable to ensure that justice is served. Koïchiro Matsuura, the Director-General of UNESCO, sponsor of World Press Freedom Day, asks that May 3 be a day of reflection on the vital role of journalists and their role in realizing our own freedoms. CJFE campaigns to defend and promote free expression - it is a cornerstone right that allows people to assert their right to food, to work, to assembly and to vote. But when journalists are killed, and when their killers go unpunished, it affects the rights of us all. This May 3, we ask Canadians to remember Tara Singh Hayer and journalists around the world who have been killed with impunity. CJFE is an association of more than 300 journalists, editors, publishers, producers, students and others who work to promote and defend free expression and press freedom in Canada and around the world. CJFE manages the International Freedom of eXpression (IFEX) Clearing House, which distributes information on violations of freedom of expression received from its 72 members around the world.
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