Magazine cover Ord&Bild
Magazine cover of ግዜ/TID/TIME, a special issue by Ord&Bild
Photo: Ord&Bild

International day on why crimes against journalists are not punished

A special issue about those imprisoned in Eritrea for 20 years and a seminar on why no one is punished when journalists are killed and tortured.
“My hope is that this will contribute to increased knowledge about the struggle that Dawit Isaak and his colleagues have waged and fought,” says UNESCO Professor Ulla Carlsson ahead of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, 2 November.

This autumn, it is 20 years since Eritrean President Issaias Afwerki banned independent media in the country, including the newspaper Setit where Dawit Isaak worked. The newspaper was one of Eritrea's most respected media. Dawit Isaak and several journalists and other publicists with him were arrested.

The Gothenburg-based former City of Refuge scholarship recipient and artist Ghirmay Yohannes, together with Pen Eritrea and the magazine Ord & Bild, has compiled a special issue, ግዜ/TID/TIME, where these journalists, playwrights and editors are portrayed. Who were they and what happened to them? And what can we do to get the imprisoned journalists released? The magazine is in Swedish, English and Tigrinya.

A matter of life and death

The publication includes an interview with Ulla Carlsson, UNESCO Professor of Freedom of Expression, Media Development and Global Policy, at the Department of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMG), University of Gothenburg.

“It is of great value that a document like this is published in a timely manner in connection with the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists”, she states. “A total of eleven journalists are in prison in Eritrea today, without access to lawyers or planned trials. Eritrea ranks 180th out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders' World Press Freedom Index!”

She reminds us that for many, freedom of speech is a matter of life and death:

“The struggle for freedom of expression is constantly ongoing. It takes political will and courage and is a struggle that must be waged”.

Threats are growing globally

“Today we see a growing threat to media freedom and independent journalism globally”, Ulla Carlsson continues and refers to the new report from UNESCO's World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development Report 2021

Despite efforts in recent years to strengthen the security of journalists, the murder, kidnapping, arbitrary deprivation of liberty and torture of journalists continue – simply because they practice their profession. Most cases remain unresolved.

Today, journalists are also killed outside war and conflict zones. In an increasing number of countries, journalists are threatened by both physical and verbal attacks as they seek to expose organized crime, corruption and abuse of power. Some governments are increasingly investing in online surveillance to control activists and journalists. This is something that has increased during the pandemic.

Although the number of journalist murders has decreased slightly over the past five years, arbitrary detention and imprisonment, as well as threats of violence, are increasing both on- and offline. In 2020, 274 journalists were imprisoned – the highest figure in three decades. Female journalists are particularly vulnerable to sexual and hostile harassment and violence. 

Welcome to a seminar with Reporters Without Borders

On the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, an online seminar will be held for all interested parties: Journalists are killed and tortured – why is no one punished?

Attention will be drawn, among other things, to the situation for journalists in Belarus, where a report from Reporters Without Borders and the World Organisation Against Torture shows systematic oppression of journalists. In addition, a new report from UNESCO will be presented which shows a serious situation for foreign correspondents.

The seminar, which will broadcast live on Facebook, is organized by Reporters Without Borders in collaboration with the Dawit Isaak Library, the Swedish UNESCO Council and Fojo.   

Date and time: Tuesday, 2 November, 14:00–16:00

More information and live broadcast: Read more about and follow the seminar on Reporters Without Borders Facebook: 

Order the special issue ግዜ/TID/TIME

The magazine ግዜ/TID/TIME, which is in Swedish, English and Tigrinya, can be ordered from Nätverkstan via e-mail: