2 November - International Day to

End impunity for crimes against journalists Bloody Hand

Parties to ECHR have an obligation to carry out effective investigations into attacks perpetrated against journalists. The alerts submitted on the Platform reflect concerns about the cases in which these obligations may not have been met.

16 cases of impunity for murders of journalists

 

 

Akhmednabi Akhmednabiyev | 2013 | Russia

The deputy editor of the daily Novoye Delo and a correspondent of the Kavkazskiy Uzel news website, Akhmednabi Akhmednabiyev was gunned down as he was leaving his home in Semender, a suburb of Dagestan’s capital, Makhachkala, on 9 July 2013.

According to media reports, Akmednabiyev was in his car, just 50 meters from his home, when the unknown attackers began shooting, killing him at the scene. There was no shortage of warning signs.

In 2009, his name was on a hit-list circulating in Makhachkala that accused several independent journalists, human rights defenders and lawyers of colluding with Dagestan’s armed Islamists and threatened them with death to avenge the murders of policemen. One of these journalists was gunned down in December 2011.

Known for covering human rights violations, corruption and the persecution of religious minorities, Akhmednabiyev had received many other threats and had narrowly escaped a murder attempt on 11 January 2013, when four shots fired in his direction only just missed him. Nonetheless, he was not given any protection after this shooting, which the prosecutor’s office did not even treat as a murder attempt. The investigation into the journalist's murder was closed a year later, without any arrests.

Alert: Independent Journalist Akhmednabi Akhmednabiyev Shot Dead in Daghestan, Russia

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Mikhail Beketov | 2013 | Russia

Mikhail Beketov, the former editor of the newspaper Khimkinskaya Pravda died of heart failure in a Moscow hospital on 8 April 2013.

In November 2008, Beketov was the victim of a savage beating by unknown attackers who left him for dead out in the cold. He lost three fingers and part of his leg and suffered long-term brain damage. The journalist had a breathing tube inserted in a life-saving surgery following the assault. However the operation also left scars that caused food to block the airflow to his lungs, eventually leading to heart failure.

In 2012, he was awarded a journalism prize by Russian President Vladimir Putin who promised that his attackers would be found and prosecuted but, to date, no one has been arrested.

Alert: Justice Delayed and Denied to Former Editor Mikhail Beketov who Died of Illness Induced by Beating in Russia

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Hrant Dink | 2007 | Turkey

On 19 January 2007 Hrant Dink, the Turkish-Armenian journalist and founder of Agos newspaper, was shot dead at 15:05 on the street in front of his office in Istanbul. The murderer, a 17-year-old Turkish nationalist, and some of his accomplices were apprehended and imprisoned but not all parties involved in the crime have been investigated.

On 14 September 2010, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in the case of Dink v. Turkey that Turkey had failed to protect Hrant Dink’s life and to adequately investigate into his death, in violation of Article 2 (right to life), Article 10 (freedom of expression) and Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) of the European Convention of Human Rights.

On 17 July 2014, Turkey’s Constitutional Court ruled that civil servants and institutions must be investigated for their alleged roles in the journalist’s murder. Public servants who allegedly failed to protect the journalist and prepared false reports are currently being prosecuted.

Alert: Masterminds Still not Condemned, Ten Years after the Assassination of Journalist Hrant Dink

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Georgiy Gongadze | 2000 | Ukraine

On 16 September 2000, Georgiy Gongadze disappeared; his beheaded body was found six weeks later. The journalist had been investigating corruption within the Government and in the Presidency of the then President Kuchma. In the months leading to his death, Gongadze reported that he was under surveillance and had been receiving threats.

After years of investigations, four former officers of the Ukrainian Secret Service were convicted, but no one was sentenced for ordering and instigating his killing. Over the last 16 years, the lack of an effective investigation into Gongadze’s kidnapping and murder has had a heavy impact on the Ukrainian society and on the journalistic community at large.

On 8 November 2005, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in the case of Gongadze v. Ukraine that Ukraine had failed to protect Gongadze’s life and to adequately investigate into his death, in violation of Article 2 (right to life) and Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) of the European Convention of Human Rights.

Alert: Continuing Impunity in the Killing of the Ukrainian Investigative Journalist Georgiy Gongadze

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Elmar Huseynov | 2005 | Azerbaijan

On 2 March 2005, Elmar Huseynov, an Azerbaijani journalist working for Monitor magazine, was gunned down in front of his apartment in Baku. Prior to this, the journalist had received a number of threats related to his work. In April 2005, Azerbaijani investigators announced the identification of six Georgian suspects related to this murder, which was re-qualified from "premeditated murder" to an "act of terrorism" aiming to destabilise the country. The mastermind behind the murder of the journalist has not been brought to justice.

On 13 April 2017, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in the case of Huseynova v. Azerbaijan that Azerbaijan had failed to properly investigate into Huseynov’s murder, in violation of Article 2 (right to life) of the European Convention of Human Rights.

Alert: Twelve Years of Impunity in the Case of the Murder of Elmar Huseynov

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Dusko Jovanovic | 2004 | Montenegro

On the evening of 27 May 2004, journalist Dusko Jovanovic, editor-in-chief of the opposition daily Dan in Montenegro, was shot dead while he was leaving his office in Podgorica. Unidentified individuals shot him in the head and chest with an automatic rifle as he was entering his car just. Both Dan and Jovanovic's family reported that the editor had received numerous death threats, and the newspaper's office in Podgorica was set on fire in April 2003.

On 9 June 2004, police arrested Damir Mandic, a local figure belonging to organised crime. In October 2004, prosecutors charged Mandic with murder, citing evidence linking him to the vehicle used in the crime. In April 2009, Mandic was sentenced to 30 years in prison for being an accomplice in Jovanovic's murder.

The lawyer representing the Jovanovic family and Dan staff has criticised the police investigation for failing to identify Mandic's accomplices; not identifying who ordered the killing; and not investigating possible links between Mandic and Montenegrin authorities.

Alert: Impunity in the Case of the Murder of Dusko Jovanovic

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Gadzhimurad Kamalov | 2011 | Russia

On 15 December 2011 in Makhachkala, the capital city of the Republic of Dagestan, Russia, Gadzhimurad Kamalov, founder and editor of the Chernovik newspaper in Dagestan, was shot dead by an unknown assailant as he left his office. A vocal critic of corruption and abuse of power, Kamalov and other journalists at Chernovik, had previously experienced a wide-range of attacks, from harassment, threats, and physical violence, to criminal charges and confiscation of copies of the newspaper.

The Dagestani authorities have failed to find any suspect or bring charges in this case. Investigators have failed to explore leads brought forward by Kamalov’s family, and refused their requests for the case to be investigated by Russia’s Federal Security Service.

Alert: Continued Impunity for Murder of Journalist Gadzimurad Kamalov in 2011

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Timur Kuashev | 2014 | Russia

Timur Kuashev, the correspondent of Dosh, a magazine which covers mainly the Russian Caucasus went missing from his home on 31 July 2014. His body was discovered the following day in a suburb of Nalchik, the capital of the autonomous Kabardino-Balkar Republic. Kuashev was known for his investigations into abuses by the security forces in the course of anti-terrorism operations. He had received numerous threats and wrote about them in an open letter he published in April 2013, saying he was concerned for his life. No investigation into the case is being reported.

Alert: Dosh Investigative Journalist Timur Kuashev Murdered in Russian Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria Following Death Threats

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Oleksandr Kuchynsk | 2014 | Ukraine

57-year-old Oleksandr Kuchynsk, a senior journalist editor of Criminal Express, a newspaper in Donetsk covering crime, was found murdered along with his wife on 29 November 2014 in the village of Bogorodychne near Slovyansk in war-torn Donetsk Oblast, according to police sources.

Officials of the Interior Ministry were quoted as saying that the couple was stabbed to death. Media reports added that Kuchynsk had gained a reputation from his investigations into the Donbass mafia. No investigation into the case is being reported.

Alert: Senior Journalist Oleksandr Kuchynsk Killed in Donetsk, Ukraine

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Anna Politkovskaya | 2006 | Russia

On 7 October 2006, Anna Politkovskaya, a Novaya Gazeta journalist and one of Russia’s most respected investigative reporters, was found shot dead in a presumed contract killing in her apartment block in central Moscow. On 9 June 2014, after several arrests, releases and retrials, the Moscow’s highest criminal court sentenced five men to prison for the murder of the journalist. Two organisers of the team that murdered Anna Politkovskaya received life sentences in prison.

However, the investigation has still not revealed who stood behind the killing and the motive for the murder. Ms Politkovskaya wrote about human rights abuses in Chechnya and was known for her criticism of the policies of the Russian authorities.

On 17 July 2018, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in the case of Mazepa and Others v. Russia, that the authorities had failed to carry out an effective investigation, in violation of Article 2 (right to life) of the European Convention of Human Rights.

Alert: Masterminds still not Brought to Justice, Ten Years after the Murder of Novaya Gazeta Journalist Anna Politkovskaya

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Nikolai Potapov | 2013 | Russia

Nikolai Potapov, the 66-year old founder and editor of the Selsovet (Village Council) newspaper, was gunned down in the Stavropol region on 18 May 2013. The newspaper exposed alleged corruption by local authorities, particularly with respect to land deals in which officials were accused of transferring state property to criminal gangs in neighbouring Caucasus regions. The newspaper’s uncompromising stance was the most likely motive for Potapov’s killing.

Authorities took suspects into custody shortly after the crime and in mid-August they said they had identified the mastermind behind the killing, but they did not release that person’s name.

Alert: Veteran Journalist Nikolai Potapov Gunned Down in Selsovet, Russia

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Andrea Rocchelli and Andrei Mironov | 2014 | Ukraine

On 24 May 2014, Italian reporter Andrea Rocchelli, accompanied by Russian journalist and human rights activist Andrei Mironov and French photographer William Roguelon, were the victims of mortar fire on the Sloviansk southern front that killed Rocchelli and Mironov on the spot and inflicted serious leg injuries on Roguelon. These three experienced reporters were in civilian clothes and were travelling by taxi. They had press accreditation and had crossed ten checkpoints prior to the attack. Their presence was known and they could not be mistaken for military personnel or parties to the conflict.

An investigation was launched in Ukraine, which concluded that no evidence exist to find those responsible for this attack. However evidences and testimonies were not taken into account: Roguelon, as well as other key witnesses, was never heard, the ballistic test did not manage to draw any useful conclusion. A complaint has been filed also by Roguelon in France, and by the Rocchelli family in Italy, where the investigation led to the arrest, on 30 June 2017, of Vitaliy Markiv, a 28-year-old Italian-Ukrainian citizen.

Alert: Ongoing Impunity in the Case of Killed Journalists Andrea Rocchelli, Andrei Mironov and Wounded Photographer William Roguelon

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Pavel Sheremet | 2016 | Ukraine

Pavel Sheremet, a journalist working for online investigative newspaper Ukrayinska Pravda and Radio Vesti, was killed in a car explosion on 20 July 2016 in Kyiv. This car belonged to Olena Prytula, editor at Ukrayinska Pravda, but she wasn’t in the car at the time. The journalist was heading to the radio's office to host his morning show when the car exploded. Pavel Sheremet, 44, was a Belarusian journalist and TV host who was imprisoned by the government of Belarus in 1997 and has been working outside of Belarus for a long time. He previously worked in Russia as TV host and journalist before moving to Kyiv.

Alert: Journalist Pavel Sheremet Killed in Car Explosion

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Rafiq Tagi | 2011 | Azerbaijan

Freelance journalist Rafiq Tagi, who contributed to Radio Free Europe’s Azerbaijani Service and was well-known for his criticism of authorities, died in hospital on 23 November 2011. He was receiving treatment having been stabbed in Baku on 19 November by an unknown assailant. In January 2014, Elcin Sadyqov, Tagi’s lawyer, reported that the Azerbaijani Prosecutor-General's Office had informed him in writing that the probe into Tagi's death has ended.

Tagi’s family and rights groups have raised suspicions about the circumstances of his death, stating that he died suddenly as his condition stabilised and noting a lack of security in the hospital prior to his death. They have also raised multiple shortcomings in the process of the investigation into his death.

Alert: Continued Impunity for Murder of Azerbaijani Journalist Rafiq Tagi

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Viacheslav Veremii | 2014 | Ukraine

In February 2014, Viacheslav Veremii, a journalist for Vesti newspaper died of wounds he sustained in an attack allegedly perpetrated by the ”tytushki”, a group of youths suspected of working with the security forces under the former regime in Ukraine, according to the Independent Media Trade Union of Ukraine. The Union said that Veremii was shot and fatally wounded in the stomach. He was admitted to hospital on 18 February 2014 and later died.

On 22 December 2017, a district court in Kyiv convicted one of the main attackers and organisers of the assault on Veremii and sentenced him on hooliganism charges to four years suspended sentence with a probation period of two years. It is not being reported that the other perpetrators were brought to justice.

Alert: Journalist Viacheslav Veremii Killed in Kyiv

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Dada Vujasinović | 1994 | Serbia

Radislava Dada Vujasinović, a Serbian journalist and reporter, was found shot dead at her parents’ home in Belgrade in the early hours of 8 April 1994. Immediately after the body’s discovery, the police said Vujasinović had shot herself with a hunting rifle but the family disputed this, pointing to omissions and inconsistences in the investigation including the failure to question neighbours and analyse evidence found at the scene.

Independent reports finally led to the reopening of the investigation but the Serb authorities were incapable of shedding any light on her death. In January 2013, the Serb government supported the creation of a commission of enquiry into the deaths of Vujasinović and two other Serb journalists, Slavko Ćuruvija and Milan Pantić.

Alert: Impunity in the Case of the Murder of Dada Vujasinović

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Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe

Dunja Mijatović, Commissioner for Human Rights

"The growing number of attacks and violence against journalists in the last few years is very disturbing. The right of journalists to carry out their work under safe conditions, without fear of being harassed, attacked or beaten is paramount to freedom of expression. I call on the Council of Europe member states to pay particular attention to their positive obligation to protect journalists."

Liliane Maury Pasquier, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe

 

The Platform for the Protection of Journalism and the Safety of Journalists was set up in 2015, in cooperation with prominent European associations of journalists and international NGOs active in the field of the freedom of expression, to facilitate collection and dissemination of information on serious threats to media freedom and safety of journalists in the Council of Europe member states. Its objective is to improve the protection of journalists, better address threats and violence against media professionals and enhance the response capacity within the Council of Europe.

The Platform enables the Council of Europe institutions to be alerted in a timely and systematic way on these threats and to take co-ordinated action when necessary. It also helps the Organisation to identify trends and to propose adequate policy responses.

Partner organisations submit alerts to the platform, informing the Council of Europe bodies on media freedom violations in the member states.

478 alerts have been submitted to the platform since April 2015. Twenty alerts are grave impunity cases, out of which sixteen alerts concern cases of impunity for murders of journalists.

These 16 cases highlight deficiencies in investigations - failure to identify the perpetrators of the crimes, the sponsors, the organisers or the masterminds of these crimes or the failure to secure the evidence concerning these murders. In some cases, the requirements of promptness and reasonable expedition have been ignored.

The 16 cases of impunity for murders of journalists, as submitted by the partner organisations, are:

Akhmednabi Akhmednabiyev (2013, Russian Federation); Mikhail Beketov (2013, Russian Federation); Hrant Dink (2007, Turkey); Georgiy Gongadze (2000, Ukraine); Elmar Huseynov (2005, Azerbaijan); Dusko Jovanovic (2004, Montenegro); Gadzhimurad Kamalov (2011, Russian Federation); Timur Kuashev (2014, Russian Federation); Oleksandr Kuchynsk (2014, Ukraine); Anna Politkovskaya (2006, Russian Federation); Nikolai Potapov (2013, Russian Federation); Andrea Rocchelli and Andrei Mironov (2014, Ukraine); Pavel Sheremet (2016, Ukraine); Rafiq Tagi (2011, Azerbaijan); Viacheslav Veremii (2014, Ukraine); Dada Vujasinović (1994, Serbia)

In their last annual report on the main trends, the partner Organisations called on the Council of Europe member states to implement fully the Committee of Ministers Recommendation CM/Rec(2016)4 on the Protection of journalism and safety of journalists and other media actors including the Guidelines on effective investigations to bring perpetrators of such crimes to justice, and wider measures needed to end impunity.

 European Convention on Human Rights ETS No. 005

 

 European Court of Human Rights

See the thematic factsheets with summaries of the relevant case-law:

 

 Committee of Ministers

Recommendation CM/Rec(2016)4 to member states on the protection of journalism and safety of journalists and other media actors (Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 13 April 2016)

Appendix – Guidelines on effective investigations to bring perpetrators of such crimes to justice

Declaration on the protection of journalism and other media actors (Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 30 April 2014)

 

 Parliamentary Assembly

Resolution 2035(2015) Protection of the safety of journalists and of media freedom in Europe

Resolution 1535(2007) Threats to the lives and freedom of expression of journalists

The platform was set up in close co-operation with the major associations of journalists and freedom of expression organisations, which were invited by the Council of Europe to be signatories of the Memorandum of Understanding. They are responsible for providing verified information on serious concerns with regard to the media freedom and safety of journalists.

See the list of all the partners of the platform.

Disclaimer: Alerts are submitted by the partner organisations, subject to their own verification processes and standards. Each contributing partner organisation is responsible for information which it posts.