Enhancing the Safety of Journalists

© UNESCO

According to the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms, a local NGO that regularly monitors cases of violations and attacks against journalists and media workers, 228 cases of violations and attacks occurred in the first half of 2017. These included, inter alia, physical assaults, arrests, detention, confiscation of equipment, house raids and coverage bans.  

As coordinator of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, endorsed by the UN Chief Executives Board in 2012, UNESCO has made addressing the safety of journalists in Palestine one of its CI priorities in Palestine. In doing so, it has placed a strong emphasis on institutional capacity building.  

One major axis of action has been support to universities providing journalism education by  supporting the integration, in the regular curricula of these schools, of a Model Course on the Safety of Journalists developed by UNESCO and the International Federation of Journalists specifically for the Arab region. In October 2016, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education formally adopted the Course, making Palestine the first country to pilot it. Ten media departments (six in the West Bank and four in Gaza Strip) are making plans to include the Course within their educational plan and one, Birzeit University, has already launched it. Throughout 2017, UNESCO and the IFJ have provided training for the teachers in the different universities that are to deliver the course, with a strong emphasis on practical training. The practical training covered issues such as first aid, covering riots and demonstrations, and safety protocols, and involved professionals such as safety officers and members of the police academy in Jericho.

The second main axis of action has been to organize open dialogues on freedom of expression between members of the Palestinian police and security forces and journalists. So far 50 security force members have been trained on their role in upholding the right to freedom of expression and the safety of journalists, as well as on rela