Candles are placed during a march in memory of murdered Slovak journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancee Martina Kusnirova. Library

End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists

End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists

Access to reliable information that journalists provide civil society is the lifeblood of a resilient democracy, where a robust system of checks and balances thrives. Impunity for the killings of journalists diminishes the rule of law and press freedom. As today we mark the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, we want to pay a special tribute to those reporters in Europe whose families still await justice for their murders. They were threatened, targeted and murdered for challenging the powerful and corrupt. We call on the states to redouble their political will to tackle impunity.

When Greek veteran crime reporter Giorgos Karaivaz was shot dead in Athens in 2021, the authorities committed to prioritising the case and bringing all perpetrators to justice. Yet, for two long years, there was no significant progress. While the arrest in April 2023 of two suspects marks an important step towards accountability, the case remains in a state of impunity as potential middlemen and masterminds have not been apprehended and no convictions have been delivered. Justice can only be served when all those directly and indirectly involved in planning and executing the assassination are held responsible for their actions, without exceptions. 

Greek crime reporter Giorgos Karaivaz, who was killed outside his home in Athens on Friday 9 April, 2021

Karaivaz was gunned down in front of his house in broad daylight sending a clear and chilling message to all reporters in Greece who hold power to account by exposing inconvenient truths. The abhorrent murder and the repeated failure to conduct a swift and thorough investigation is in part a consequence of inaction in the case of the 2010 murder of journalist Sokratis Giolias and came amidst numerous unresolved cases of threats and attacks against journalists. This worrying pattern ultimately underscores that despite declarations, the state continues to fall short of ensuring the safety of journalists with no concrete measures taken to improve the situation let alone secure justice. The recent MFRR mission to Greece, during which the delegation met with both journalists and public officials, further confirmed the stark erosion of media freedom in the country. We renewed our call for the authorities to dedicate additional resources and staff to the cases of violence against journalists and recognise their special nature to finally guarantee prompt, independent and efficient investigations. 

picture alliance/EPA-EFE | MATEJ KALINA

The murder of investigative reporter Ján Kuciak and his fiancee Martina Kušnírová in 2018 sparked the biggest nationwide protest since the Velvet Revolution in 1989. The public’s rage subsequently translated into a vibrant quest for change and eventually toppled Robert Fico’s government. Kuciak, who was ruthlessly shot in his own home, reported on corruption, tax fraud and shady connections between businesses and oligarchs close to Fico’s SMER party. Five years on, Fico is back as Prime Minister for the 4th time, while the families of Kuciak and Kušnírová still await full justice. 

From the start, the process has been marked by allegations of political meddling in the police investigation. While the culprits who executed and facilitated the murder have since been prosecuted and sentenced to 25 years in prison, the suspected mastermind has continued to evade accountability. Businessman Marian Kočner was acquitted in a retrial in May 2023, a decision that the MFRR strongly condemned at the time stressing the massive setback for the protracted fight against impunity for Kuciak and Kušnírová’s murder. The verdict arrived amidst a resurgence of verbal attacks on Slovakian journalists, with top politicians launching smear campaigns that continue to go unaddressed. Before the September election, the SMER party disseminated at least 174 posts targeting journalists on social media which raises further concerns about whether the newly appointed government will rise to the occasion to tackle the climate of impunity and hostility against journalists. The MFRR delegation visited Bratislava in February 2023 to commemorate Kuciak and Kušnírová on the fifth anniversary of their murder and to reaffirm our steadfast support for the victims’ families. We reiterated the call for the authorities to provide law enforcement with all necessary means to bring justice for the crimes against journalists and to strengthen punishment for attacks against journalists targeted for their work.

picture alliance/AP Photo | Rene Rossignaud

The glaring illustration of how a total absence of political will perpetuates ongoing impunity has been bluntly demonstrated in the case of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia who was killed in a car bomb in October 2016. Incessant pressure from Daphne’s family and civil society groups resulted in the creation of an independent public inquiry to establish the circumstances that led to the journalist’s death. The final report published in 2021 found the state had to ‘shoulder responsibility’ for Caruana Galizia’s murder as it had created an ‘atmosphere of impunity’ and failed to take effective measures to protect her. The key findings included detailed recommendations on how to enhance the safety of journalists and restore the rule of law so that assassinations like that of Daphne could never happen again. Though in 2022, the hitmen were handed down harsh prison sentences, the masterminds still remain free. 

Though the report provided a historic opportunity for the Maltese government to create an enabling environment for independent journalists, and despite the repeated calls from the international community, the authorities remain reluctant to implement these vital safeguards. Civil society was not consulted in the production of draft media laws which resemble token gestures that do not offer robust and systemic reforms that are urgently needed. In addition, Malta consistently fails to address corruption and crime exposed by Caruana Galizia and other investigative journalists who operate in a high-risk environment. Daphne Caruana Galizia’s hard-hitting investigations into dirty money scandals, organized crime, and high-level government corruption earned her the nickname a ‘one-woman WikiLeaks’ – and in turn put a target on her back. Daphne was vilified, harassed and singled out as a public enemy. At the time of her death, she was facing 48 SLAPP cases. 

While the EU is still perceived as one of the safest places for journalists, year by year the various attacks are on the rise, with the most tragic examples being the assassinations of journalists. The vicious cycle of impunity tarnishes the press freedom and rule of law reputation of the authorities responsible. EU member states must genuinely engage in fulfilling their international obligations to safeguard media freedom including by redoubling their efforts and strengthening the political will to tackle impunity. In addition, they should fully implement the European Commission’s recommendation on journalists’ safety and report on their progress transparently. 

It is imperative to confront impunity for crimes committed against journalists to uphold the principles of free expression and support resilient civil society. Daphne Caruana Galizia, Giorgos Karaivaz and Jan Kuciak were brutally killed for their dedication to investigating and exposing crime, corruption, and other abuses of power that affect our communities. The assassination of a journalist seldom occurs in isolation. Instead, it is often preceded by consistent attempts to denigrate journalists and paint them as traitors to turn the public hostile towards them. We must collectively try harder to neuter and challenge vicious narratives aimed at decreasing trust in independent journalism. 

Signed by:

  • ARTICLE 19 Europe
  • European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
  • Free Press Unlimited (FPU)
  • International Press Institute (IPI)
  • OBC Transeuropa (OBCT)

This statement was coordinated by the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), a Europe-wide mechanism which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States and candidate countries. 

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Justice Delayed: Impunity Event

Justice Delayed: Insights from Impunity Cases Across Europe

Justice Delayed:

Insights from Impunity Cases Across Europe

10 November, 11:00 CET.

The Council of Europe Platform for the Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists currently states that there are 26 ongoing cases of impunity for the murder of journalists in Europe.


We know that to bring an end to these heinous crimes, those who commit them cannot walk free. Indifference towards the seriousness of these crimes helps cultivate a culture of impunity in Europe and stands in the way of justice. But what would full justice look like in these cases? And how can we work together to achieve it?


Throughout this webinar, we will hear from speakers with close ties to journalists who paid the ultimate price for their vital and critical reporting. Through this conversation, we hope to understand what true justice will look like, how it can be achieved, and what needs to be done to halt the culture of impunity for crimes against journalists in Europe.


Flutura - Impunity Webinar

Flutura Kusari

Senior Legal Advisor, European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)


Photo: Francesca Bellizzi #ifj18

Corinne Vella

Sister of Daphne Caruana Galizia and Head of Media Relations at the Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation

Lukas Diko - Impunity Webinar

Lukáš Diko

Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of the Jan Kuciak Investigative Center

George Gavalas

Vice-President of the Executive Board of the Journalists’ Union of Athens Daily Newspapers

MFRR in Focus - Episode 2 Library

MFRR in Focus News Webinar — Episode 2

MFRR in Focus News Webinar — Episode 2

The second episode of the MFRR in Focus News Webinar focuses on International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists.

In this month’s episode you may find the monthly and annual media freedom alerts, as reported on and presented by ECPMF’s Antje Schlaf.

Among the updates of the month are listed the cases of impunity and trials concerning journalist-murders in Europe, namely those of Peter R. de Vries in the Netherlands, Georgios Karaivaz in Greece and the ongoing calls for justice for the investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta.

The guests of the webinar include Head of Europe and Central Asia team at Article 19, Sarah Clarke who talked about the Malta Mission and the battle for justice for Daphne Caruana Galizia; as well as OBCT’s Coordinator of the Resource Centre on Media Freedom in Europe Paola Rosa who talked about the increasing number of physical attacks and intimidation targeting journalists in Italy in recent weeks.

IPI’s Jamie Wiseman as part of MFRR in Focus interviewed Georgios Karaivaz’s son Dimitris Karaivaz.

The panel discussion this month was led by EFJ’s Communications and Project Officer Camille Petit who also is doing monitoring as part of the MFRR, and she was joined by guest speakers David Bevan -a media specific risk consultant- and Stefan Bentele -a freelance journalist from Germany who specializes on extremism.

The webinar is presented by Gürkan Özturan, the MFRR Coordinator. The MFRR is organised by an alliance led by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) including ARTICLE 19, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), Free Press Unlimited (FPU), the Institute for Applied Informatics at the University of Leipzig (InfAI), International Press Institute (IPI) and CCI/Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT).

This webinar was coordinated by the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), a Europe-wide mechanism which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States, Candidate Countries and Ukraine.

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Greece Flag Library

Greece: Little progress on Karaivaz murder investigation six months…

Greece: Little progress on Karaivaz murder investigation six months on

After six-month anniversary of assassination, IPI urges fresh impetus in police probe

To mark the six-month anniversary of the assassination of veteran Greek crime reporter Giorgos Karaivaz, the IPI global network urges Greek law enforcement authorities to redouble efforts to bring those responsible for the targeted assassination to justice. We call on authorities not to let Karaivaz’s murder become another long-running and damaging case of impunity for the killing of a journalist within the European Union.

On April 9, 2021, Karaivaz, an experienced reporter who worked for the TV channel STAR and ran a news website focusing on crime and policing, was ambushed by two men on a scooter and gunned down outside his home in broad daylight with a silenced weapon. Police said the “professional” style of the hit indicted the involvement of organised crime groups, which have carried out a number of targeted killings in recent years and which Karaivaz was known to have investigated.

Immediately after the murder, IPI and our partners in the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) wrote to authorities including the prime minister and the minister of citizen protection urging them to ensure the probe by the Hellenic Police was conducted swiftly, thoroughly and professionally. We received no response. However, the government responded to an alert on the Council of Europe’s platform for the safety of journalists, stressing that investigations are continuing as a matter of priority and that authorities “have spared no effort in their search to identify the perpetrators and motives”.

However, despite the collection of substantial amounts of data, security camera footage and forensic analysis, since then no suspects have been publicly identified and no arrests have been made. Public information about the status of the investigation remains scarce, as details of the preliminary investigation have been kept secret under the Greek Code of Criminal Procedure. While we welcome the individual efforts of those involved in the investigation, the lack of communication from police and the Ministry of Citizen Protection means that every month that passes dents hope that those behind the killing – including potential perpetrators, facilitators, go-between and masterminds – will ever be held accountable for the crime.

This is deeply concerning, as impunity for fatal attacks on journalists remains one of the biggest issues for media freedom in the EU. In Greece, the 2010 shooting of radio manager, blogger and investigative journalist Socratis Giolias remains mired in impunity. The longer that these kinds of attacks go unpunished, the more it encourages others thinking about silencing journalists to act. The recent recommendation by the European Commission on the safety of journalists is clear: states must act swiftly to prevent the emergence of a culture of impunity regarding attacks against journalists. We urge Greek authorities to implement the recommendation.

After the six-month anniversary of the murder, and ahead of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists on November 2, we renew our call for all those responsible to be identified and prosecuted. IPI and its partners in the MFRR intend to hold a media freedom mission to Greece in the coming months to assess the main challenges facing independent journalism. The safety of journalists and impunity will be two central themes we hope to discuss with government representatives. We hope that during this time meaningful progress can be made. In the meantime, we will continue to honour Karaivaz’s memory and push for justice for both him and his family.


United Kingdom: MFRR partners join call for justice for…

United Kingdom: MFRR partners join call for justice for Martin O’Hagan

Twenty years ago today, Sunday World journalist Martin O’Hagan was shot dead in Lurgan, Northern Ireland. To this day, no one has been held to account for his brutal murder. The undersigned partners in the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) stand in solidarity with O’Hagan’s family, colleagues and friends as we call for justice in his case.

On 28 September 2001, O’Hagan was shot several times from a passing car while walking home from a local pub with his wife, who was not hurt in the attack. As a reporter, O’Hagan specialised in stories about drug gangs and paramilitary organisations. Over the years, he had repeatedly been threatened as a result of his journalistic work.

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ), of which O’Hagan was a member, has been leading the call for a panel of international experts to be convened to investigate the unsolved murder and the subsequent police failings. Amidst growing worries about the safety of journalists in Northern Ireland, the MFRR shares the deep concern over the failure to hold those responsible to account and the implications of this enduring legacy of impunity, and supports the NUJ in their campaign for justice for Martin O’Hagan. It is long overdue.

Signed by:

  • Article 19
  • European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
  • European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)
  • Free Press Unlimited (FPU)
  • International Press Institute (IPI)
  • Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT)
Photo of court building in Valletta Library

Malta: Tycoon Yorgen Fenech to face trial for murder…

Malta: Tycoon Yorgen Fenech to face trial for murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia

Yorgen Fenech, a Maltese business mogul, has been indicted for the murder of anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in 2017 and will face a trial by jury on a date yet to be set. Fenech faces charges of complicity in murder and criminal association. So far, Vince Muscat has been sentenced to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to the murder earlier this year. Two further alleged hitmen, the brothers George and Alfred Degiorgio will also face trial. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) welcomes Fenech’s indictment and urges the Maltese authorities to finally end impunity and punish everyone involved in this heinous crime.

Almost four years have passed since Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered in a car bombing on 16 October 2017 close to her home in northern Malta. Her reporting focused on high-level corruption, including investigations into the Panama Papers in 2016. She was investigating possible corruption in a contract between Fenech and the Maltese government for the building of a power station when she was killed.

While Vince Muscat, one of the hitmen contracted for the murder, has been sentenced to prison, Yorgen Fenech is considered the mastermind behind the murder by Caruana’s family. On 20 November 2019, Fenech was arrested while he was leaving Malta on his private yacht. He has been under arrest since, undergoing a pre-trial compilation of evidence where he pleaded not guilty.

The prosecutors who filed the bill of indictment in court today, Wednesday 18 August, are said to be pushing for a life in prison sentence for complicity in murder and an additional 20 to 30-year sentence for criminal association. Melvin Theuma, the assassination plot’s self-confessed middleman, had previously claimed that Fenech tasked him with organising the murder. The indictment bill reads: “Yorgen Fenech wanted Melvin Theuma to find someone willing to kill Daphne Caruana Galizia.” The date for the trial is yet to be set.

Mogens Blicher Bjerregård, the EFJ President, reacted: “Impunity for crimes against journalists must end. We are hopeful that justice will finally be served and we will closely observe the upcoming trials. Too often, it is only hitmen, if even, that get caught, while the masterminds behind the crimes are running free. The Maltese authorities must punish everyone involved in the brutal murder.”

In July 2021, a public inquiry into the assassination found the state of Malta responsible for her death, saying that the state had failed to recognise risks to the reporter’s life and take reasonable steps to avoid them. The inquiry concluded that a culture of impunity was created from the highest echelons of power in Malta, singling out former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat for enabling this culture of impunity.

Photo of court building in Valletta Library

Malta: Yorgen Fenech to stand trial for murder of…

Malta: Yorgen Fenech to stand trial for murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia

Prosecutors seek life imprisonment on charges of complicity in murder and criminal association.

Maltese prosecutors today indicted the man accused of ordering the 2017 murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, in another important milestone in the fight against impunity and for full justice for her assassination.

On August 18, prosecutors filed the bill of indictment in court seeking life imprisonment for businessman Yorgen Fenech on charges of complicity in murder and criminal association, paving the way for him to stand trial by jury over the 2017 killing.

Prosecutors allege that in April that year, Fenech contacted a middleman about finding someone who could carry out the murder, provided €150,000 in cash to pay the alleged hitmen and ultimately gave the green light for the fatal car bomb to be detonated.

“Today’s indictment of the man alleged to have effectively orchestrated and funded the assassination is a milestone in the fight against impunity and another important step down the road to full justice for Daphne’s murder”, IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen said. “Though a long and at times painful process for her family, we are glad to see the compilation of evidence result in a bill of indictment by prosecutors.

“The role of judging responsibility for this horrific crime will now lie with a Maltese jury. Until then, we continue to demand justice for Daphne’s murder and consequences for the corruption she exposed. She deserves the truth; her family deserve the truth. This case has global significance: impunity for those responsible cannot be allowed to continue.”

Long fight for justice

The long-sought indictment comes 46 months after the assassination in October 2017 and three weeks after an independent public inquiry concluded that the state must bear shared responsibility in fomenting a culture of impunity in which the murder could be carried out.

The business mogul has been in preventive custody since November 2019 after being arrested while allegedly trying to flee Malta aboard his yacht. Considerable evidence against him has since been compiled during a lengthy legal process.

IPI understands it is expected to take around one year for the trial to begin.

The alleged middleman, taxi driver Vincent Muscat, has already been sentenced to 15 years behind bars after changing his plea to guilty in February. The two alleged hitmen, brothers George and Alfred Degiorgio, are set to face trial over executing the contract killing. Both maintain their innocence.

The bill of indictment, a formal criminal accusation that a person has committed a crime, came the same day as Fenech’s legal team again requested bail in court. The prosecution contested by presenting WhatsApp messages sent by the accused which they allege demonstrate his intention to flee Malta after the assassination, which Fenech denies. It was also alleged Fenech ordered weapons including grenades and rifles with hundreds of bullets, as well as a gun silencer and 20 grams of potassium sodium cyanide powder.

Maltese media reported that it was understood prosecutors were seeking life imprisonment for the crime of complicity in murder and a further 20 to 30 years for criminal association. The indictment was filed by the Deputy Attorney General Philip Galea Farrugia.