The Press Emblem Campaign (PEC), a nongovernmental organization with special consultative status at the United Nations, presented a statement on press freedom and journalist killings during the 40th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on Wednesday.
PEC documented the killing last year of 117 journalists, an increase of 17 percent in media casualties compared to the previous year. In five countries journalists paid an unacceptable toll: Afghanistan with 17 killed, Mexico also with 17, Syria with 11, and Yemen and India, with 8 journalists killed in each of those countries.
PEC urged the members of the Human Rights Council to fight impunity more firmly and to bring those responsible for the crimes to justice.
PEC is also worried by the large number of arrests of journalists in the recent turmoil in Sudan and the repression of press freedom in Nicaragua and Venezuela, the statement reads.
PEC expressed special concern over the continuous judicial harassment of journalists in Turkey in the statement.
PEC was one of the organizers of a panel discussion on human rights violations in Turkey that the Turkish government mobilized its entire diplomatic corps to prevent during 40th session of the council. The move prompted an outcry from human rights defenders.
Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 211 journalists and media workers were in jail as of March 11, 2019, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 134 were under arrest pending trial while only 77 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 167 journalists who are living in exile or remain at large in Turkey.
The government also closed down some 200 media outlets, including Kurdish news agencies and newspapers, after a controversial coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016.