Journalist safety: agreement on the next step
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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.
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
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
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
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
Society of Editors, UK
Somali National Union of Journalists
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