Intentionally attacking journalists ‘a war crime’ after Ukraine reporters targetted, says EU

Intentionally attacking journalists 'a war crime', says European Commission
Journalists in Kyiv covering the Ukraine war. Credit: Honcharuk Andrii/


The European Commission has declared that intentionally directing an attack against journalists as civilians is ‘a war crime’.

This news comes after several journalists have been attacked while covering the Ukraine war.

A joint statement has been released by High Representative Josep Borrell and Vice-President Věra Jourová, ahead of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, which takes place tomorrow, November 2.

On September 16, the European Commission adopted a European Media Freedom Act, a novel set of rules to protect media pluralism and independence in the EU.

The proposed Regulation includes, among others, safeguards against political interference in editorial decisions and against surveillance of journalists.

Their statement said: “Journalists are our eyes and ears reporting from conflict zones. They put their lives in danger to provide accounts of what is happening on the ground. Their accurate, impartial media reports serve a fundamental public interest: accounts, images and news from the ground can have a decisive impact on the development and outcome of armed conflicts.

“Consequently, journalistic work is often deliberately obstructed in armed conflicts. Media professionals face access denial, censorship, and harassment, as well as arbitrary detention and brutal attacks.

“In Ukraine, several journalists and media workers have been killed or injured, sometimes deliberately targeted, while documenting the truth about the atrocities committed by Russian troops in Putin’s war of aggression against Ukraine. Their work is essential, as the Russian regime wages a global disinformation campaign on the realities of their war.”

Intentionally directing attacks against journalists, as civilians, constitutes a war crime, the statement said, revealing that 80 per cent of murders committed on journalists worldwide have not been brought to justice.

The statement continued: “War zones are however not the only places where journalists come under attack. Across the world, journalists face increasing threats in their work. They are victims of hate crimes, harassed online, targeted by spyware, and even murdered.

“We must put an end to impunity for these crimes and uphold human rights and the rule of law by providing justice to the victims. Over the past 10 years, 80 per cent of journalists’ murders worldwide have not been held to account.”