Debate to cover international sharing of experience about protecting journalists

Trauma is very real in the work of journalists, and the attacks in January in Paris, which left seven killed, had a harsh emotional impact on their colleagues, their families and many others.

How Kenya deals with problems of stress on journalists is the subject of discussion by Dinah van Altena Kituyi, an expert speaker in the debate “After Charlie: strengthening the safety of journalists”, scheduled at UNESCO for Friday 27 March.

The event is part of a meeting of the Bureau of UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication. The IPDC is the cradle of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.

Ms Kituyi will speak about the nightmares, anger and emotional numbing experienced by Kenyan journalists who have been subjected to threats and worse. 

She has extensive experience in counselling media people, including journalists in exile, and is a contributor to the publication “Images that stay forever” about their stress in relation to covering massacres in 2012 and 2013.

The effects of stress are damaged relationships at home, substance abuse and ongoing unhappiness. The recommendations Ms Kituyi will speak about include complementing psychological support with awareness raising and research, and including stress as part of safety training in schools of journalism.  

Another speaker sharing international experience at the meeting is Mr Carlos Cortés, an expert who is researching the development of police protection of journalists in Colombia. He will describe the evolution of different structures that evaluate and respond to journalists under threat.

The Colombian system is widely recognised as a pioneering step whereby a state can ensure that journalists can withstand intimidation and be shielded from attack.

Mr Monir Zaarour, of the International Federation of Journalists, will speak at the meeting on a model of training trainers as a way to maximise skills-sharing amongst journalists in regard to self-protection. This has been implemented especially in the Arab region.

The role of media institutions in terms of supporting the safety of journalists will be covered by Mr Yves Bigot, Director-General of TV5Monde.

Delegations of Member States as well as the media have been invited to the meeting, and a video of the proceedings will be put online in order to spread the information further.