Sunday 19 February 2017

Veronica Guerin's 20th anniversary is marked by world's media

Published 19/06/2016 | 02:30

Courageous: Veronica Guerin was honoured by the world’s media in Colombia where INM Group Editor-in- Chief Stephen Rae accepted an award from World Association of Newspapers President, Tomas Brunegard
Courageous: Veronica Guerin was honoured by the world’s media in Colombia where INM Group Editor-in- Chief Stephen Rae accepted an award from World Association of Newspapers President, Tomas Brunegard
Jineth Bedoya Lima who was abducted, sexually assaulted and tortured
Renowned journalist Anna Politkovskaya was murdered in 2006
Group Editor-in-Chief at INM Stephen Rae pictured with award-winning Colombian journalist, Jineth Bedoya Lima
Stephen Rae INM and WAN IFRA President Tomas Brunegård with Veronica Guerin award
Sergey Sokolov, Novoya Gazeta, Moscow, Stephen Rae INM, Tomas Brunegard, President WAN-IFRA and Vincent Peyregne, CEO WAN-IFRA

The media world has paid tribute to Veronica Guerin as the 20th anniversary of her murder approaches next Sunday.

  • Go To

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.

Jineth Bedoya Lima who was abducted, sexually assaulted and tortured
Jineth Bedoya Lima who was abducted, sexually assaulted and tortured

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.

Renowned journalist Anna Politkovskaya was murdered in 2006
Renowned journalist Anna Politkovskaya was murdered in 2006

"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.

Group Editor-in-Chief at INM Stephen Rae pictured with award-winning Colombian journalist, Jineth Bedoya Lima
Group Editor-in-Chief at INM Stephen Rae pictured with award-winning Colombian journalist, Jineth Bedoya Lima

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

Stephen Rae INM and WAN IFRA President Tomas Brunegård with Veronica Guerin award
Stephen Rae INM and WAN IFRA President Tomas Brunegård with Veronica Guerin award

"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.

Sergey Sokolov, Novoya Gazeta, Moscow, Stephen Rae INM, Tomas Brunegard, President WAN-IFRA and Vincent Peyregne, CEO WAN-IFRA
Sergey Sokolov, Novoya Gazeta, Moscow, Stephen Rae INM, Tomas Brunegard, President WAN-IFRA and Vincent Peyregne, CEO WAN-IFRA

Amongst the reporters who attended the event commemorating Veronica was Jineth Bedoya Lima, deputy editor of the El Tiempo newspaper in Colombia.

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.

Sunday Independent

Read More

Promoted articles

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News