Peoples’ Tribunal on the Murder of Journalists: Syria, Mexico, and Sri Lanka guilty of human rights violations

THE HAGUE — on Monday, 19 September, the Peoples’ Tribunal on the Murder of Journalists issued a symbolic decision condemning Syria, Mexico, and Sri Lanka for human rights violations due to their failure to prosecute those responsible for the killing of journalists.

The Peoples’ Tribunal on the Murder of Journalists was convened by the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT). In accordance with its Statute and the Algiers Charter, the PPT, a globally renowned peoples’ tribunal, organizes Peoples’ Tribunals in the style of the Russell Tribunals.

Over the course of six months, the Peoples’ Tribunal on the Murder of Journalists held hearings to consider three cases: the 2009 assassination of Lasantha Wickrematong in Sri Lanka, the 2011 assassination of Miguel Angel Lopez Velasco in Mexico, and the 2015 assassination of Nabil al-Sharbaji in Syria.

The Tribunal was supported by Free Press Without Borders, the Committee to Protect International Journalists, and Reporters Without Borders.

Eduardo Bertone, one of the Tribunal’s nine judges, said that, “In light of the compelling evidence, the states of Mexico, Sri Lanka, and Syria are guilty of all human rights violations brought against them in the indictment.”

Bertone pointed out that none of the governments offered no defense despite being called upon to do so.

Organizers say 1,400 journalists have been killed doing their jobs since 1990 and 86% of these murders remain unsolved.

The Tribunal also presented a list of recommendations to the United Nations to ensure the safety of journalists during their work, calling on states to investigate crimes against the media and civil society organizations.