This week you might have heard about a high-profile case filed against Israeli tech firm NSO Group for its alleged role in spying on hundreds of people through surveillance software installed via WhatsApp.
With many journalists and activists among the targets, the case highlights the evolving risks faced by those working to uncover injustice and human rights abuses. Cybersecurity is an ever-growing issue, and many also face physical threats and criminal charges for doing their job.
Just this week, Nigerian journalists were arrested and charged with defamation for reporting on a corruption case. In Egypt, Esraa Abdel-Fattah, an activist, journalist and critic of the regime was imprisoned and reportedly tortured in the most recent case of government backlash against media. And reporters in Hong Kong are protesting against police violence after some of them were pepper-sprayed by authorities while covering the ongoing protests.
All too often, attacks against journalists turn deadly. More than 1,300 have been killed since 1992, most often in countries with corrupt public sectors. A recent report by the Committee to Protect Journalists shows that impunity rates for such killings are appallingly high, with convictions in fewer than a fifth of cases. When the police and judiciary are part of the same corrupt power structures that journalists are investigating, impunity thrives.
The assassinations of Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta and Ján Kuciak in Slovakia prove that investigating corruption can be deadly even in countries considered safe, underlining the need for robust protection everywhere. Journalists must be able to carry out their work without fearing retaliation. A strong and free press is crucial to uncovering abuse of power, holding the corrupt accountable and countering the spreading scourge of false information that is undermining democracy.
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