Veronica Guerin's 20th anniversary is marked by world's media
Published 19/06/2016 | 02:30
The media world has paid tribute to Veronica Guerin as the 20th anniversary of her murder approaches next Sunday.
Executives attending the World Editors Forum earlier this week took time out to remember the courageous Sunday Independent investigative journalist.
The conference held in Cartagena, Colombia was attended by more than 700 of the most senior media decision makers.
A major topic of the event - and one of the reasons Latin America was chosen - was press freedom and the ability of journalists to operate in the most volatile environments.
At a specially convened session, the president of the World Association of Newspapers (WAN-IFRA), Tomas Brunegard spoke of how Veronica's cold blooded murder on June 26, 1996 left her colleagues around the globe in shock.
“WAN-IFRA is proud to honour the memory of Veronica Guerin and take the opportunity to acknowledge the enormous contribution she made to our profession.
"Her tireless pursuit of truth and justice – the cornerstones of our belief in freedom and democracy – remain as necessary today as they were 20 years ago," said Mr Brunegard.
"Veronica’s death profoundly shocked us all, yet her legacy inspires us to be better journalists, true to the ideals of a free press and fully committed to the belief that journalism has a vital role in forging better societies,” he added.
- Read more: 'She was a woman just doing her day’s work as Veronica was and taken down' – Veronica Guerin's widower sends condolences to husband of Jo Cox
Mr Brunegard presented Group Editor-in-Chief at INM, Stephen Rae, with a plaque on behalf of all his members, which will now hang in the Sunday Independent newsroom.
"I and many of my colleagues at Independent News and Media remember the awful day that Veronica was murdered as if it was yesterday," said Mr Rae
"It was a strong act of solidarity by our international journalistic colleagues to commemorate her forthcoming anniversary. Reporters and photographers right around the world continue to be harrassed and threatened and recently enough two of our journalists were warned by gardai about their personal security amidst the murderous Kinahan/Hutch organised crime gang feud," he said.
"We cannot be put off by threats and must continue to report the news accurately, in context and in a trustworthy way. Journalists must diligently question and verify stories to build a strong democracy," he added.
Amongst the reporters who attended the event commemorating Veronica was Jineth Bedoya Lima, deputy editor of the El Tiempo newspaper in Colombia.
- Read more: Remembering Veronica
Jineth has twice been abducted by paramilitaries in Colombia. On May 25, 2000 she was taken hostage at a prison where she was reporting. During the kidnap she was tortured and sexually assaulted by gunmen.
Three years later she was kidnapped and held again, this time by the leftist FARC guerillas before being released.
She is a nominee the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize for her work in defence of womens rights as a result of a her campaign against gender violence and impunity in Colombia, called 'No Es Hora De Callar' (It's not time to be silent), launched in 2009.
Her campaign has helped many other women victims of violence. In 2013, Jineth was ackowledged as one of the 100 most influential journalists in the world covering war and violence, and the following year was amongst Colombia's most important leaders, selected by the prestigious Colombian Semana magazine and the Fundación Liderazgo y Democracia.
She was part of the group of victims that participated in the current peace process taking place in Havana among the Colombian government and the FARC Armed Guerrilla. Last February, she received the Premio Nacional al Mérito Periodístico (National Award to the Journalistic Merit) for her more than 20 years of profesional trajectory.
Also honouring Veronica Guerin was Sergey Sokolov, an editor with Novaya Gazeta in Moscow. The acclaimed opposition Russian newspaper received this year's Golden Pen award at the conference. Five of their journalists, including , Anna Politkovskaya have been murdered.
Sergey emphasised that the main task of journalists in conflict areas is to "determine the truth and destroy the myths." He illustrated the current "information war" in Russia that began with the crisis in Crimea. He underlined that journalists have to be rigorous in registering crimes committed by both sides during a conflict because they may well be the only witnesses.