Impunity and the Rule of Law
The Initiative on Impunity and the Rule of Law: A Joint Project of City, University of London Centre for Law, Justice and Journalism (CLJJ) and the University of Sheffield Centre for Freedom of the Media (CFOM)
Our aims are to provide an independent platform to assess the effectiveness of existing legal, political and institutional safeguards against violence directed at journalists because of their professional work; and to present the case for more effective international mechanisms to counter such crimes of violence and to end impunity. Journalists play a vital role in providing reliable information on matters of public interest and their work can expose them to special risks of physical violence and arbitrary prosecution. As documented by UNESCO, the annual toll of targeted killings of journalist, and the effective impunity related to crimes of violence against them, have risen to historically high levels, causing serious concern among journalists, jurists, human rights organisations and governments. States are obliged under international law to respect and protect individuals exercising the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and to ensure that those rights are upheld. Those obligations also apply in times of conflict. Intimidation and violence directed at journalists because of their role in monitoring the exercise of state powers and matters of public interest, as well as failures to investigate and prosecute such crimes promptly and effectively, have been identified by United Nations bodies and other relevant organisations as matters that require a coordinated response by States.
The Initiative is conducting collaborative research and consultation among academic and legal experts, national government officials, Inter-Governmental Organisations, and civil society and media representatives, to advance our aims.
Working Papers from the June 2011 conference
The findings and provisional draft proposals from Phase One of the work will be considered at a gathering of experts and policy-makers at City in June 2011. Our initial research consists of two strands, focused principally but not exclusively on the European area:-
- A Paper on International Legal Instruments, international case law and the execution of ECHR court judgements, including analysis of the current gaps in enforcement of states' commitments, and the extent of relevant rights and obligations in law.
- A Political Aspects Study, analysing the nature of alleged climates of impunity in terms of political and judicial processes, the impact of formal and informal channels used to seek compliance with international norms and commitments, and alternative future courses of action at national and international level.
The above papers have been published in the CLJJ working paper series
Phase Two of the Initiative's programme of research and policy development began during 2011 and is currently ongoing. It will construct a wider international platform of academic and legal expertise, in collaboration with governmental and non-governmental bodies, to develop and seek acceptance for the enhanced political and legal instruments needed to realise the Initiative's founding aims. Papers and events from phase two can be found in our resources section and continue to be added to.
- William Horsley on firstname.lastname@example.org
- Prof Lorna Woods on Lorna.email@example.com
- Prof Howard Tumber on firstname.lastname@example.org
- Prof Jackie Harrison on email@example.com.
Directors of the Initiative
William Horsley, International Director of CFOM, University of Sheffield, and Coordinator of the Impunity Initiative
Prof Jackie Harrison, Chairman of CFOM Centre for Freedom of the Media, University of Sheffield
Prof Howard Tumber, Director of Journalism, CLJJ, City, University of London
Prof Lorna Woods, Director of Law, CLJJ, City, University of London
Dr Carmen Draghici, Lecturer in Law, The City Law School, City, University of London
Dr Dimitris Xenos, Researcher, The City Law School, City, University of London
William Horsley, International Director of CFOM & Hon. Lecturer, Department of Journalism Studies, University of Sheffield
Advisory Committee Members
Mark Ellis, Director, International Bar Association
Jo Glanville, Editor of Index on Censorship
Miklos Haraszti, former OSCE Representative on Freedom of Media; Adjunct Professor, Columbia Law School, USA
Lord Frank Judd, Saferworld and the UK House of Lords
Edward Mortimer, Director of the Salzburg Global Seminar and former adviser to the UN Secretary-General
Peter Noorlander, Legal Director, Media Legal Defence Initiative
Rodney Pinder, Director, International News Safety Institute
- New: CFOM International Director authors OSCE Guidebook on Journalists' Safety
- New: UN Action Plan Final Draft for approval at the IPDC Council Meeting, March 21 to 23 2012
- UN Plan to stop impunity for crimes against journalists is finalised
- Mapping the UN and Regional Human Rights Treaties and Systems
- Database of Freedom of Expression and Impunity NGOs (Compiled by Cecilia Dinardi)
- CPJ Impunity Index 2011 - Getting Away With Murder
- Article 19 -- Violence and Press Freedom in Mexico: Still in the Line of Fire (PDF)
- Draft UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity (as of 9 September 2011)
- UNESCO webcast and information on the 13-14 September UN Inter-agency Meeting on Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity
- UN Human Rights Committee General Comment No. 34 on Freedom of opinion and expression (21 July 2011)
Tumber H. (2011) Reporting under Fire: The physical safety and emotional welfare of journalists, in B. Zelizer and S. Allan, (eds.) Journalism After September 11, Routledge 247-262
Tumber H. (2008) Journalists, War Crimes and International Justice, Media War and Conflict Vol 1 No. 3 Dec.
Tumber H. (2006) 'The Fear of Living Dangerously: Journalists who report on Conflict', Journal of International Relations Vol. 20 No.4.
Tumber H. and F. Webster (2006) Journalists under Fire: Information War and Journalistic Practices, Sage Publications.
Tumber H. (2005) Journalism and the war in Iraq, in S. Allan (ed.) Journalism: critical issues, Maidenhead: Open University Press, 370-380.
Tumber H. and J. Palmer (2004) Media at War: the Iraq Crisis, Sage Publications.