EU to governments: Ensure accountability in journalist killings

Pia Lee-Brago - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - As the world observed yesterday International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, the European Union (EU) called on governments across the globe to strictly fulfill their obligations to ensure accountability for crimes committed against journalists.

In issuing the call, EU High Representative Federica Mogherini said “reporters in many countries across the world face an increasing level of intimidation and violence.”

“The EU expects state authorities to fully abide by their international obligations to effectively, promptly and in an independent manner investigate such crimes and to ensure that both state and non-state perpetrators and instigators of such violence are brought to justice,” Mogherini said in a statement.

The observance of International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists came on the heels of the killing of dwIZ radio broadcaster Jose Bernardo in Quezon City.

Bernardo, who was also a columnist of tabloid Bandera Pilipino, was gunned down outside a restaurant Saturday night.

Bernardo was the 30th journalist killed during the Aquino administration and the 170th since 1986 when the freedom of the press was fully restored after the ouster of the Marcos dictatorship, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said.

Police have formed a task force to investigate the killing.

Mogherini said the attacks on journalist are not only attacks on the victims, but also on freedom of expression and freedom of the media.

“Media are the mirror of our societies: if they are free and critical, we are free and safe,” she added.

Around the globe, journalists are attacked every day as they try to carry out their work. Last year alone, 61 journalists were killed while doing their job. Many more languish in jails without charges or any sign of due process. 

The United Nations said freedom of expression and press freedom are critical to the successful implementation of good governance and human rights around the world.

The world body reminded governments that both freedoms were “essential” to the shaping of a new global sustainable development agenda.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and NUJP have accused the Aquino administration of failing to protect the lives of journalists in the Philippines. They cited in particular the slow progress of the court cases against those allegedly involved in the Maguindanao massacre in November 2009. Killed in the massacre were 32 media members and 26 others.

The massacre was allegedly masterminded by former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr.

Task force                                                                                                                            

Meanwhile, the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) has created a special task force to investigate Bernardo’s killing.

QCPD spokesman Chief Insp. Jeffrey Bilaro said the newly formed “special investigation task group Jose” (SITG Jose) has submitted Bernardo’s cellular phone to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) for digital forensic examination after initial probe showed “threatening text messages” in his phone. He said the messages were being examined.

Bilaro said the police were also analyzing CCTV recording of the vicinity where Bernardo was killed to help in the investigation.

They were also getting information from the victim’s family, colleagues and co-employees.

National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Director Joel Pagdilao said they were also trying to establish if Bernardo’s killing was work-related.  – With Robertzon Ramirez, Non Alquitran, Artemio Dumlao




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