Journalist safety: agreement on the next step

Wednesday 31 October 2012, 17:17

Charles Miller Charles Miller edits the College of Journalism blog and produces documentaries for BBC History and Business. Twitter: @chblm

Can journalists look forward to working more safely in areas of conflict? And will those who harm them to be brought to justice?

A process is underway in the United Nations to achieve those ends. In preparation for a UN meeting to discuss the issues in Vienna in November, the BBC College of Journalism co-hosted a conference in London on 18 October attended by representatives of a wide range of media organisations and prominent journalists from around the world.

The great majority of those present agreed a statement which will now form part of the discussion at the UN meeting in Vienna, as will a video produced by the College of Journalism called ‘Freedom to report: a message from global media’.

The statement, copied in full below, expresses “dismay” at the failure of previous UN efforts on journalist safety and hope that this new UN Plan will be more effective.

For views on the importance of the question of journalists’ safety, take a look at these recent posts relating to the London meeting, discussing journalist safety in Mexico, Russia, Brazil, Pakistan and Somalia.

 THE LONDON STATEMENT by members of the global media community on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, October 2012

Addressed to the UN Inter-Agency Meeting on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity in Vienna on 22-23 November 2012, organised by UNESCO and co-hosted by the United Nations Development Program, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime 

We, members of the global media community meeting in London on 18 October 2012:  

  • Condemn all cases of killings and other physical attacks, intimidation, harassment, abduction and wrongful imprisonment as well as other forms of oppression of journalists and other media workers
  • Express our dismay at the failure of many governments to end impunity for the killers of journalists
  • Register our disappointment and concern at the lack of effectiveness of previous United Nations interventions including UNSC Resolution 1738 on the safety of journalists in conflict and an end to impunity
  • Affirm that the right of journalists and media workers to work free from harm, harassment and abuse is fundamental to freedom of expression and therefore a matter of urgent and legitimate concern for governments and societies around the world as well as the news media themselves
  • Welcome the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity and declare that this historic commitment should fulfil the high expectations to which it gives rise
  • Express our strong concern that in carrying forward the Plan of Action, the UN system, as well as other relevant national and international bodies, should operate effectively and in accountable ways to persuade Member States to create safe environments for working journalists
  • Encourage all news media to monitor regularly the actions of their governments, judicial authorities and other institutions in implementing the Plan and ending impunity
  • Propose that the acute concerns of the news media for meaningful and practical actions are fully and seriously taken into account at the UN Inter-Agency Meeting being held in Vienna in November and thereafter in the effective implementation of the UN Plan.  

Annex

The following were also proposed from the floor and supported by a number of participants at the Symposium on ‘Media Responses to Matters of Life and Death’ hosted in London by the Centre for Freedom of the Media, University of Sheffield, and BBC College of Journalism:

1.  The killing of a journalist in the course of their duty should be regarded as a crime against humanity (Bob Tyrer, The Sunday Times)

2.   UNESCO should require Member States to provide yearly reports on the progress of investigations into journalist killings (Zaffar Abbas, Dawn Newspaper, Pakistan)

3.   Media houses are encouraged to provide proper safety training and insurance to all staff, stringers and associated personnel (Zaffar Abbas, Dawn Newspaper, Pakistan).

Signatories of the London Statement by members of the global media community on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, October 2012:

African Editors Forum

Al Jazeera

Article 19

Association of Commercial Television in Europe

BBC Global News

Blue Dot Safety Training

Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (ABRAJI)

Centre for Freedom of the Media, University of Sheffield

City University, London

CNN

Colombo Telegraph, Sri Lanka

Committee to Protect Journalists

Commonwealth Journalists Association

Commonwealth Media Group

Commonwealth Press Union Trust

Daily Telegraph, UK

Dawn Newspaper, Pakistan

European Broadcasting Union

Federation of African Journalists

Frontline Club, London

Global Rolling News Live

Globo, Brazil

The Guardian, UK

Hurriyet Newspaper, Turkey

Index on Censorship

International News Safety Institute

International Press Institute

L Siglo de Torreon, Mexico

La Stampa Newspaper, Italy

Media Legal Defence Initiative

Philippines National Union of Journalists

Radio Netherlands Worldwide

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Rory Peck Trust

Sky News

Society of Editors, UK

Somali National Union of Journalists

Thomson Reuters

World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA)

World Editors Forum.

 

Signed in a personal capacity:

Dawood Azami, journalist and University of Westminster

Ivor Gaber, journalist and UNESCO IPDC Council UK Representative

Anabel Hernandez, Mexican journalist

Emin Milli, Azerbaijan writer

Hamid Mir, Geo TV presenter, Pakistan

Lorna Woods, Centre for Law Justice & Journalism, City University, London

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