Friday, November 23, 2012

November 23: International Day to End Impunity

"The greatest incitement to guilt is the hope of sinning with impunity."- Cicero

Cuba is a country in which the culture of impunity has ruled over an entire people for over 53 years. Nonviolent human rights defenders such as Orlando Zapata Tamayo, Juan Wilfredo Soto Garcia, Laura Pollan, Wilman Villar Mendoza, Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero were all threatened at various times over their human rights and pro-democracy activism and all died under suspicious circumstances in which the dictatorship was clearly implicated.

Large scale massacres such as the July 13, 1994 tugboat massacre in which 37 men, women, and children were killed by agents of the Cuban government when the tug they were on was surrounded, attacked and sunk as they tried to flee Havana. None of the individuals responsible for this crime have ever been held accountable for their actions.

Four members of the humanitarian organization, Brothers to the Rescue, were shot down by Cuban MiGs while flying in two civilian airplanes while performing search and rescue for Cuban rafters on February 24, 1996 in international airspace. Justice has still been denied the victim's families.

One way to combat impunity is to remember the victims while gathering as much truthful information as possible in order to learn the truth and continue to seek justice.

The International Freedom of Expression Exchange network (IFEX) has designated November 23 the Day to End Impunity. This presents an excellent opportunity for all people of good will to learn more about the nature of impunity and the every day actions they can take to combat it. 

The text below is reproduced from the webpage hosting this event and is an excellent overview. Highly recommended to also visit the Day to End Impunity site.

Culture of impunity - What does it mean?

A culture of impunity exists when those who seek to control the freedom of expression of others do so knowing that it is unlikely they will be held accountable for their actions.

Why a day?

Every day around the world artists, journalists, musicians, writers and free expression advocates are being silenced, often with no investigation or consequences to their perpetrators. The International Day to End Impunity, launched on 23 November 2011, marks the anniversary of the 2009 Ampatuan massacre in the Philippines, when 32 journalists and media workers were murdered. The goal of the Day is to achieve justice for those persecuted for exercising their right to freedom of expression by drawing global attention to the issue of impunity. The Day not only raises public awareness about what creates and sustains a culture of impunity, it also prompts concerned citizens world-wide to take action, make their voices heard and demand justice.

Who is IFEX?

International Freedom of Expression Exchange network (IFEX) is the global network of organisations committed to defending and promoting the right to freedom of expression. The International Day to End Impunity highlights the ways IFEX members are working to combat impunity.

For more information visit