Impunity is on the rise in Europe: governments must take action
While the number of journalists killed has fallen sharply in Europe compared to last year, the number of cases of impunity for murder continues to rise. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) currently counts 48 unpunished crimes in 13 countries. To mark International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists on November 2, 2023, the EFJ calls states to take concrete action to end impunity for these crimes.
48 murders and assassinations of journalists go unpunished in Europe: 16 in Kosovo, 7 in Russia, 6 in Ukraine, 6 in Turkey, 3 in Serbia, 2 in Greece, 2 in Azerbaijan, 1 in Slovakia, 1 in Malta, 1 in the United Kingdom, 1 in Cyprus, 1 in Montenegro and 1 in Belarus.
To mark the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, on 2 November, six cases of impunity were added to the European impunity list:
Aleh Byabenin (Belarus), founder of the Minsk-based pro-opposition news website Charter 97, who was found hanged in his summer house outside Minsk, on 3 September 2010. Authorities claimed the journalist had committed suicide. Eyewitnesses who went to the scene of the incident reported several inconsistencies, claimed that there were traces of violence on his body, and that it appeared the police had conducted only a cursory investigation at the scene.
Slavko Curuvija (Serbia), owner of the Dnevni Telegraf and the magazine Evropljanin, who was killed by two gunmen who fired several bullets into his back and head outside his home in Belgrade, on 11 April 1999. There is still no final verdict, 24 years after the assassination. In April 2023, two Serbian State Security officers on trial for participating in the murder of Slavko Curuvija were released from house arrest after six years.
Sokratis Giolias (Greece), director of the news broadcaster Thema Radio and contributor to the news website Troktiko, who was shot on 19 July 2010 by unidentified men in police uniforms. The killers lured Giolias out of his apartment in Athens, early in the morning, claiming his car was being stolen, and shot him several times. Over a decade later, Giolias’ murder remains unsolved, and perpetrators and masterminds have not been brought to justice.
Giorgos Karaivaz (Greece), was an experienced reporter who worked for the TV channel STAR and ran a news website focusing on crime and policing. On 9 April 2021, he was gunned down outside his home in broad daylight by two men on a scooter. The Greek authorities promised to prioritise the case. Despite the arrest of two suspects in April 2023, those responsible have not yet stood trial, there have been no convictions, and no additional progress has been made since, including in identifying possible middlemen or masterminds behind this killing.
Milan Pantić (Serbia), a correspondent at the daily newspaper Vecernje Novosti, was killed by unknown assailants after being struck on the head with a blunt object outside his home in the city of Jagodina in central Serbia, on 11 June 2001. 22 years after the killing, no one has been prosecuted and convicted and those responsible continue to evade justice.
Yuri Shchekochikhin (Russia), then deputy editor of the independent Moscow twice-weekly Novaya Gazeta, died 12 days after being hospitalized in a Moscow clinic with what doctors said was an acute allergic reaction. He died suddenly on 3 July 2003 a few days before his scheduled departure to the United States, where he planned to meet with FBI investigators. His medical documents were either lost or destroyed by authorities. The EFJ believes the journalist was poisoned to prevent him from further uncovering the truth about a high-level corruption case involving officials from the Federal Security Services (FSB) and the Prosecutor General’s Office.
Almost eight years after the adoption of the Council of Europe’s Recommendation on the Protection of Journalism and the Safety of Journalists, the 46 member states have been slow to put in place a comprehensive legislative framework able to prevent impunity and to afford journalists a broad and effective scope of protection.
“The EFJ reminds the member states of the Council of Europe of their commitment to establish special judicial or non-judicial inquiries into specific cases or independent specialised bodies to conduct such inquiries on an ongoing basis,” said EFJ President Maja Sever. “We demand that this procedure be established for each of the 48 cases of impunity identified in Europe. Inaction by the public authorities would be tantamount to complicity with the killers”.
Cases of impunity for murder in Europe:
- Đuro Slavuj (Kosovo, 1998)
- Ranko Perenić (Kosovo, 1998)
- Afrim Maliqi (Kosovo, 1998)
- Ismail Bërbatovci (Kosovo, 1998)
- Gabriel Grüner (Kosovo, 1999)
- Volker Krämer (Kosovo, 1999)
- Enver Maloku (Kosovo, 1999)
- Ljubomir Knežević (Kosovo, 1999)
- Aleksandar Simović (Kosovo, 1999)
- Krist Gegaj (Kosovo, 1999)
- Momir Stokuća (Kosovo, 1999)
- Marjan Melonaši (Kosovo, 2000)
- Shefki Popova (Kosovo, 2000)
- Xhemajl Mustafa (Kosovo, 2000)
- Bekim Kastrati (Kosovo, 2001)
- Bardhyl Ajeti (Kosovo, 2005)
- Yuri Shchekochikhin (Russia, 2003)
- Anna Politkovskaya (Russia, 2006)
- Gadzhimurad Kamalov (Russia, 2011)
- Akhmednabi Akhmednabiyev (Russia, 2013)
- Mikhail Beketov (Russia, 2013)
- Nikolai Potapov (Russia, 2013)
- Timur Kuashev (Russia, 2014)
- Georgiy Gongadze (Ukraine, 2000)
- Pavel Sheremet (Ukraine, 2000)
- Oleksandr Kuchynsky (Ukraine, 2014)
- Viacheslav Veremii (Ukraine, 2014)
- Andrea Rocchelli (Ukraine, 2014)
- Andrei Mironov (Ukraine, 2014)
- Uğur Mumcu (Turkey, 1993)
- Hrant Dink (Turkey, 2007)
- Naji Jerf (Turkey, 2015)
- Rohat Aktaş (Turkey, 2016)
- Saaed Karimian (Turkey, 2017)
- Jamal Khashoggi (Turkey, 2018)
- Dada Vujasinovic (Serbia, 1994)
- Slavko Curuvija (Serbia, 1999)
- Milan Pantić (Serbia, 2001)
- Sokratis Giolias (Greece, 2010)
- Giorgos Karaivaz (Greece, 2021)
- Elmar Huseynov (Azerbaijan, 2005)
- Rafiq Tagi (Azerbaijan, 2011)
- Kutlu Adalı (Cyprus, 1996)
- Martin O’Hagan (United Kingdom, 2001)
- Dusko Jovanovic (Montenegro, 2004)
- Aleh Byabenin (Belarus, 2010)
- Daphne Caruana Galizia (Malta, 2017)
- Jan Kuciak (Slovakia, 2018)