Greece: Impunity continues two years after murder of journalist Giorgos Karaivaz
Two years ago, veteran Greek crime reporter Giorgos Karaivaz was assassinated in Athens. Today, the undersigned partners in the Council of Europe’s Platform to promote the protection of journalism and safety of journalists honour Karaivaz’s memory.
We also renew our call on the Greek authorities to urgently bring to justice all those responsible for this abhorrent murder and to provide more transparency about the investigation. It is wholly unacceptable and deeply saddening that the case must now be categorised as an instance of impunity for murder, considering there has been no significant progress in investigating or prosecuting this crime for two years.
Karaivaz 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. Following the killing, police said the “professional” style of the assassination indicated the involvement of organised crime.
In the immediate aftermath, the Greek authorities promised to prioritise the case and make every effort to swiftly bring the perpetrators and masterminds to justice. Yet to date, no arrests have been made, nor have any suspects been publicly identified, despite the collection of large amounts of data, security camera footage and forensic analysis. The authorities have not announced any substantial progress in the investigation. Information about the status of the investigation is being closely guarded by law enforcement bodies, despite repeated calls for more transparency by media freedom organisations, including several of the Platform’s partners. While we recognise the need to keep certain details of the investigation secret, the lack of communication by state authorities around the criminal probe has led to uncertainty and deepened the chilling effect of the assassination on the journalistic community.
Impunity arises from States’ failure to effectively investigate cases of serious human rights violations, which is an obligation with an absolute character under the European Convention on Human Rights. Effectiveness entails that an investigation must be capable of leading to the identification and punishment of those responsible, comprehensive in scope and address all relevant background circumstances. It must also be prompt, impartial and independent, and sufficiently open to public scrutiny to maintain public confidence in the authorities’ adherence to the rule of law and to prevent any appearance of collusion in or tolerance of unlawful acts.
Karaivaz’s assassination represents a low point for press freedom in Greece. Every day without progress in the investigation and prosecution further tarnishes the reputation of the authorities responsible. We will continue honouring Giorgos Karaivaz’s memory and pushing for justice for him, his family, friends, and colleagues.