Diane Foley Calls for an End to Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists

THE HAGUE – Diane Foley, mother of conflict journalist James Foley who was beheaded by ISIS in 2014, called today for an end to the impunity that has allowed this crime and others like it to go unpunished.

Over the past 11 years, she said, more than 900 journalists have been killed for doing their job of bringing news and information to the public.  But only one in 10 crimes against media is ever prosecuted.

Foley, founder and president of the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation, was speaking here at Free Press Live 2017, an event marking the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, which was designated by UNESCO in 2013. “I applaud UNESCO for its wisdom in recognizing that this current culture of impunity allows those wanting to silence the press to continue their brutal targeting of journalists, totally undaunted by any repercussions or justice for those victimized,” Foley said.  “UNESCO’s #End Impunity campaign needs to be embraced by us all to loudly condemn all violence against journalists and to call for accountability and justice for perpetrators of these crimes against humanity.”

One of the crimes never prosecuted was the murder of her son. “During the two years of Jim’s captivity, U.S. government officials told me to trust them, to say nothing, do nothing,” she said. “Now, three years later, I am told once again to trust, that something is being done to bring Jim’s sadistic captors to justice.  Yet, no attorney has been named to prioritize the search for justice.  Only one FBI agent continues to work this case and admits little progress.”

Foley said her family founded the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation to advocate for the safe return of those detained or kidnapped abroad, to protect the vulnerable and increasing numbers of independent conflict journalists and to educate regarding these threats to our freedom.

It has sought to work with the U.S. government to make the return of all Americans in captivity a national priority.  It has also worked with others to create A Culture of Safety alliance to protect vulnerable civilian and foreign independent conflict journalists, is working to create an online curriculum for schools of journalism that stresses the needed core competencies of risk assessment and digital security, and has worked to raise awareness of the very real threats to freedom.

“So I am here today to challenge you to call for an end to impunity for these deliberate crimes against journalists, and to dare to challenge those who forget the sacrifices made by so many journalists, both civilian and foreign,” Foley said. “Hatred and fear are terrorizing our world and working hard to silence the voices calling for truth and justice.  Do not allow yourself to be silenced.”