November 16, 2015
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) Asia-Pacific on Monday (November 16) launched 'Without A Trace: Media workers missing in the Asia-Pacific' , an online record highlighting the stories of 10 media workers who disappeared and currently remain missing in the region. To date, their cases are unsolved and largely uninvestigated by authorities.
The campaign focuses on the cases of Juanita Nielsen (Australia), Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla (Maldives), Joey Estriber (the Philippines), Prakash Singh Thakuri, Chitra Narayan Shrestha, Milan Nepali, Madan Paudel (all of Nepal), and Prageeth Eknaligoda, Subramaniam Ramachandran and Vadivel Nimalarajah (all of Sri Lanka).
The Without A Trace resource has been launched as part of the IFJ Asia-Pacific’s 2015 End Impunity campaign which runs from November 2 to 23 and provides a profile of the missing journalists, including personal information, the circumstances of their disappearance, and the nature of the authorities’ investigation and response. Some cases date back as long as 40 years while others such as Ahmed Rilwan have been missing just over a year.
IFJ Asia-Pacific’s director, Jane Worthington, said: “Importantly, this resource not only raises awareness on these important cases in order to combat impunity for crimes against journalists, but it provides people an opportunity to advocate and put pressure on governments and leaders to investigate these cold cases and keep their stories alive.”
In 2010, the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances came into effect with the aim to prevent enforced disappearances, uncover the truth when they do happen, and make sure survivors and victims’ families receive justice and reparation. So far 94 states have signed the convention and 44 have ratified.
Most countries in Asia-Pacific are yet to sign on let alone ratify the convention. Of the countries highlighted with missing journalist cases, only the Maldives has signed the convention.
IFJ’s Australia affiliate, the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA) today issued a letter to Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull calling on the Australian government to sign and ratify the convention.
“These 10 cases are indicative of the wider problem of impunity for attacks against journalists, which is endemic in many countries in the Asia-Pacific region,” the IFJ said.
“For the families, the fact that investigations have been poorly handled or non-existent only increases the suffering and loss. In one case, the case has remained open since the 1970s and in others the known involvement of state agencies has seen investigations pushed aside.”
The IFJ and its affiliates in Nepal, Australia, Sri Lanka and the Maldives, with the support of IFEX, have cooperated to tell the stories of these 10 journalists and media workers, whose journalistic work is understood to be a key factor in their enforced disappearance and where governments failed to conduct adequate investigations into their disappearance and bring perpetrators to justice.
The IFJ is calling on those who object to impunity for journalist attacks and enforced disappearances to join their social media campaign by sharing the missing journalists’ profiles on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using the hashtag #IFJmissing. - IFJ
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