8 November 2022, 11.30-13.00 - Room 8  – Palais de l’Europe

Interpretation: EN/FR

The murder of a journalist is the ultimate form of censorship, yet the perpetrators of such crimes are seldom held to account, which generates impunity. So many times, investigations fail because the perpetrators or masterminds have the support of political power and are able to exert influence over the judicial processes and national calls for justice.

In other cases, conflict and instability are coupled with weakened or failed institutions. From Mexico to India to the Philippines, the pattern is the same: where journalist killings go unpunished, violence repeats, and censorship becomes entrenched. Both independent and fact-based journalism is essential for democracy. Its loss greatly accelerates the strengthening of authoritarian regimes.

Impunity is representative of a much broader and varied wave of attacks against the press. These include online threats and harassment, spurious legal challenges and now - seemingly increasingly - digital surveillance. Where people access their information in media landscapes which are polarised, fed by disinformation, they are unable to make meaningful decisions regarding their lives, and the very issues which affect them.

The session will assess the impact of impunity on journalism and what steps journalists and activists are taking to rectify this.

Forum Talk 8: The Impact of Impunity on Journalism and Democracy
Palais de l'Europe, room 8 8 November 2022 - 11.30-13.00
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Full screen: ENFR / ORIGINAL

moderator moderator


Director, Directorate of Democratic Participation, Council of Europe

Matjaž Gruden is Director of Democratic Participation at the Council of Europe, which includes Council of Europe activities and programmes in the area of education, including education for democratic citizenship, youth cooperation, culture and cultural heritage, landscape and biodiversity. The Directorate also includes the Platform to promote the Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists, the Eurimages film fund and the Observatory on History Teaching in Europe. Matjaž Gruden previously served as Director of Policy Planning, Deputy Director of the Private Office of the Secretary General, political adviser and speechwriter for the Secretary General and President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Prior to his career at the Council of Europe, he was a diplomat at the Slovenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, posted in Brussels. He holds a law degree from the Law Faculty of the University of Ljubljana, as well as a post-graduate degree in EU law from the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium.

panel panel


EU Representative and Advocacy Manager, Committee to Protect Journalists


Tom Gibson joined the Committee to Protect Journalists in January 2017 and is CPJ's lead advocate in Brussels covering the institutions of the European Union. Between 2014 and 2016, Gibson managed Protection International's Burundi and Congo desks, advocating for stronger state accountability for the protection of human rights defenders and journalists as well as developing emergency responses and protection measures. Previously, he worked in Amnesty International's Africa program from 2005 to 2014, based in London and Nairobi, during which he mainly researched human rights violations in the Great Lakes region of Africa.



Director of the Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media

Jürgen Heissel is Director of the Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media. He has two decades of experience in the Austrian Foreign Service, covering human rights and security policy issues. He has been working in multilateral settings with organizations including the UN, the OSCE and the Council of Europe. His posting prior to RFOM was with the Permanent Mission of Austria to the OSCE, where in 2017 he was the co-ordinator of the Human Dimension during the Austrian OSCE Chairmanship. Jürgen holds a degree in Law from the University of Salzburg and is a graduate of the Vienna School of International Studies (Diplomatische Akademie) and the European Master’s Programme in Human Rights and Democratisation.



Journalist and author


Alejandra Ibarra Chaoul is a journalist and book author. She created and leads the nonprofit Defensores de la Democracia, which aims to prevent violence against local reporters. Her work has been published by The Washignton Post, The New Yorker, Gatopardo, Letras Libres, Ríodoce, among others. She has been a fellow at the Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism and a visiting scholar at The Brown Institute for Media Innovation and the ArtEZ University. Ibarra Chaoul holds a BA in Political Science from Mexico's Autonomous Institute of Technology (ITAM) and a Master’s in Journalism from Columbia University.



Journalist and media analyst, Founding Editor of the Free Speech Collective


Geeta Seshu is engaged in reporting and analysing media issues, freedom of expression, media ethics, gender, media ownership and working conditions of journalists. In 1984, she became a journalist and was editor of a digital portal and a social issues magazine. She has authored book chapters on media literacy, digital access and online abuse of women in India and news reportage, public opinion and privacy. She was Consulting Editor of the renowned mediawatch site The Hoot. She is a Founding Editor of the Free Speech Collective, set up in 2018 to protect the right to freedom of expression.

discussant discussant


Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Sweden to the Council of Europe


He is the current Chair of the Group of Friends on the Safety of Journalists and Media Freedom in the Council of Europe.

rapporteur rapporteur

Sigurþór Maggi SNORRASON (T.B.C.)

Democracy Officer of the National Youth Council of Iceland