The UNESCO conference "Safe to Speak: Securing Freedom of Expression in All Media" concluded in San Jose today with the adoption of a declaration calling on governmental and intergovernmental actors, NGOs and media professionals, to support the United Nations Plan of Action for the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity in order to guarantee universal freedom of expression on and offline.
The San Jose Declaration* also marks the 20th anniversary of World Press Freedom Day. Adopted by more than 300 delegates, including four ministers, it reaffirms that Freedom of expression must “extend to all new media" and that the "universality of the Internet [...] is a prerequisite for freedom of the press and digital security of journalists”.
The declaration underlines the deep concern “about the attacks on freedom of expression and in particular against those who practice journalism".
It calls on UNESCO Member States “to create a safe legal and institutional environment for journalists to report”, and “ensure that crimes against journalists or media outlets are subject to independent, speedy and effective investigations and prosecutions”. It also calls on them to support implementation of the UN Plan of Action on The Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, and to engage in inter-state co-operation on these issues;
The text appeals to journalists “to provide widespread publicity on crimes against journalists, particularly when these go unpunished, and to consider undertaking investigations on individual cases of impunity”.
It encourages UNESCO “to continue monitoring safety of journalists worldwide” ;to “sensitize governments to the importance of freedom of expression and against threats that impunity for crimes against media practitioners represent by implementing the UN inter-agency Plan of Action on The Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity”; and to facilitate dialogue among Member States and other stakeholders on the freedom of expression implications of social networks and new media”.
Finally, it asks the Organization “to ensure that the inclusion of press freedom, safety of journalists, the issue of impunity and safety on-line are integrated in the international development agenda”.
The Conference also convened side-events involving 13 UN agencies in Latin America and government representatives from Brazil, Mexico, Costa Rica and Honduras.
One of the highlights of the event was the award ceremony on 3 May of the UNESCO / Guillermo Cano prize. The 2013 laureate is Ethiopian journalist Reeyot Alemu, who is currently serving a five-year prison term. . All information and photographs from the ceremony can be found in the following article: "Who will reveal the hidden truths?"
Lucia Iglesias Kuntz, l.iglesias(at)unesco.org
Tel + 336631543036
*The full text of the Declaration will be published on UNESCO website.