Joint statement issued at the BBC's Safety of Journalists Symposium

This statement was issued at the BBC’s Safety of Journalists Symposium on Monday 7 April 2014, hosted by BBC Global News and CFOM, the Centre for Freedom of the Media at the University of Sheffield, in cooperation with the BBC College of Journalism.

Published: 7 April 2014

The following participants at the Symposium have endorsed this Statement and called for increased safety and protection of journalists:

“We have gathered to protest at the increasing attacks on journalism around the world and the damage to free speech that can result from the rise in violence and intimidation against the media.

"UNESCO has just published detailed evidence which shows that journalism has become increasingly dangerous in many parts of the world. Only last week the acclaimed Associated Press photo-journalist Anja Niedringhaus of AP was killed in Afghanistan.

"In too many countries journalists are facing serious intimidation and violence, which in turns leads to disturbing patterns of censorship and self-censorship. We stand against these abuses and today we call on the governments concerned to investigate each one of those crimes promptly and effectively so as to bring those responsible to justice. We will now observe a minute’s silence to illustrate the silencing of journalists and of free speech.

"Today also marks 100 days since the arrest and detention in Egypt of three respected and highly professional Al Jazeera journalists, Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed. No credible evidence has been produced to justify their imprisonment and prosecution. A number of other journalists have also been held in Egypt for extended periods without adequate access to justice. We call for the release of all those individuals and the freeing of more than 200 other journalists around the world who are now held behind bars only because they were doing their jobs. Journalism is not a crime; it is essential for a free and open society.

"We are especially concerned that since the start of the Syrian conflict three years ago more than 90 journalists have been killed, and scores of others have been kidnapped. Many of those who have been abducted remain unaccounted for today. Among them are the French journalists Didier François, Nicolas Hénin and photographers Edouard Elias and Pierre Torres.

"Our urgent concerns are directed at governments. They must bear the primary responsibility to ensure effective protections for free speech and the safety of journalists, whose task is to provide reliable and unbiased information within and across national borders. UNESCO, the United Nations agency which monitors attacks against journalists, reports that a staggering total of 547 journalists were killed between January 2007 and today.

"It is an affront to justice that in recent times fewer than one in ten of all killings of journalists have resulted in convictions for the perpetrators. Such a climate of impunity has a chilling effect on whole societies and impedes the work of both local and international news organisations. We welcome last December’s decision in the UN General Assembly to declare November 2 the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists. It was on November 2 last year that two French journalists, Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, were brutally murdered while on assignment in Mali by members of the armed group which had kidnapped them. The increase in such attacks and killings directed against members of the media who seek to report at first-hand about significant events undermines the public’s right to know what happens and should be a cause of grave public concern. The increase underlines the urgency of establishing a safe and enabling environment for journalism, which is the declared and proper goal of the UN’s Action Plan on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.”

This statement is supported by the following organisations:

Peter Horrocks - BBC Global News Director

David Hayward - BBC College of Journalism

Matthew Eltringham - Editor, BBC College of Journalism

William Horsley - CFOM International Director

Jackie Harrison - CFOM Chairman and Professor of Journalism Studies, University of Sheffield

Lada Price - CFOM Editorial Assistant and Website Manager

Nicholas Tsagourias - CFOM & Professor at University of Sheffield School of Law

Stewart Chisholm - Open Society Foundations (OSF) Program on Independent Journalism (PIJ)

Edward Pittman - OSF Program on Independent Journalism

Judge Sanji Mmasenono Monageng - Vice President of the International Criminal Court

Fadi El Abdallah - Spokesperson of the International Criminal Court

Michael Marsden - Embassy of Brazil, London


Ben De Pear - Editor, Channel 4 News

Paul Ingrassia - Managing Editor, Reuters

Sarah Whitehead - Sky News, Deputy Head of Newsgathering

Dan Williams - Head of International News, Sky News

Tim Singleton - ITV Foreign News Editor

Jamie Wilson - Guardian International Editor

Marcelo Moreira - TV Globo Editor

Andre Caramante - Investigative journalist, formerly Folha de S.Paulo, Brazil

Kadri Gursel - On behalf of IPI Turkey

Aidan Sullivan - Co-founder of A Day Without News? & Getty Images Vice President, Photo Assignments

Cherilyn Ireton - Executive Director, World Editors Forum

Mr Salah Negm - Director of News, Al Jazeera English

Mr Sami Al Haj - Head of Human Liberties, Al Jazeera

Eleanor McClelland - Researcher, Al Jazeera Public Liberties and Human Rights Department

Hany Beshr - Al Jazeera London Correspondent

Paul Steiger - Executive Chairman, ProPublica,

Faysal Aziz Khan - Geo TV Bureau Chief, Pakistan

Owais Aslam Ali - Head of Pakistan National Coalition on Media Safety


Thomas Hughes - Article 19, Executive Director

Ricardo Gonzales - Article 19, Head of Protection Networks

Joel Simon - Committee to Protect Journalists, Executive Director

Elizabeth Witchel - Committee to Protect Journalists, UK

Christophe Deloire - Reporters Without Borders, Secretary General

Lucie Morillon - Reporters Without Borders, Deputy Director (Advocacy and New Media)

Jesper Højberg - Director, International Media Support

Heba Morayef - Former Director, Human Rights Watch, Cairo


Can Yeginsu - Barrister

Taras Shevchenko - Ukrainian Media Law Institute


Marie-Christine - Saragosse President, France Medias Monde (RFI, France 24, MCD)

John Maguire - RFI, Director International Relations, FMM

Mattieu Mabin - Senior Reporter, FMM

David Ensor - VOA Director

Robert Zaal - Director, Radio Netherlands Worldwide


Fran Unsworth - BBC Deputy Director of News and Current Affairs

Ricardo Acampora - Current Affairs Editor, Brazilian Service, BBC Global News

Andrew Roy - World Editor, BBC News

Liliane Landor - Editor, BBC World Service News & Programmes

Behrouz Afagh - BBC World Service Head of Asia Pacific Region

Simon Marr - BBC Head of High Risk

Murat Nisancioglu - Head of Turkish Service, BBC Global News

Aamer Ahmed Khan - West and Central Asia Editor, BBC Global News

Paul Rasmussen

BBC Global News Press Office

+44 7711 415 102