Newsletter - Issue 11 (November/December 2014)

Greetings Colleagues,
As part of the information sharing mechanism under the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, we are issuing this newsletter every two months. Through this newsletter, we share with you information on the implementation of the UN Plan of Action. It includes development from the first-phase countries (Iraq, Nepal, Pakistan, and South Sudan), various ongoing and upcoming initiatives that could contribute to achieving the objectives set out in the UN Plan of Action. We invite you to submit relevant information concerning your initiative that would contribute to the UN Plan.



The inaugural International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists on 2 November 2014 was observed worldwide by UN agencies, Member States, civil society, academia, and the media. UNESCO co-hosted several events which were attended by representatives from multiple stakeholders to tackle and counter this widespread issue. Read more.


Legal experts discuss frameworks to tackle impunity

On 3 November 2014, UNESCO co-hosted an international seminar on legal frameworks safeguarding the media with its partners the Council of Europe, the Centre for Freedom of the Media at the University of Sheffield, and the European Lawyer’s Union in Strasbourg, France. Close to 100 participants shared worldwide experiences on how courts and laws could better protect journalists and counter impunity for attacks on free expression. Read more.


UN action plan on journalists’ safety enters second phase

The third UN Inter-Agency Meeting on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity on 4 November 2014 in Strasbourg, France signaled a new phase for the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. Six UN organizations convened with over 100 participants to discuss the first 18 months of the UN Plan of Action and called for stronger international partnerships and a broader perspective. The review report from the pilot phase of the UN Plan of Action will be made available soon. Read more.

© UN

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calls to stand up for justice

In his message for the first International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon highlighted the UN Plan of Action and calls to take a united stand against impunity and injustice for journalists. "By ending impunity we deepen freedom of expression and bolster dialogue", the UN Secretary-General declared. "No journalists anywhere should have to risk their life to report the news." View the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's video message here.


OHCHR underlines the responsibility of States and the efforts of international community to protect the media

In a personal video message to the third UN Inter-Agency Meeting on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein emphasized the role of States in ensuring an enabling environment for journalists and highlighted the efforts of the international community of the past two years. "Strong and independent journalism is vital to human rights' promotion and protection. It nourishes informed participation in decision making", he stated. Watch the video message of the High Commissioner for Human Rights here.

© UNESCO/Boran Choi

Upholding Rule of Law is essential to end impunity for crimes against journalists

In a high-level panel discussion at the UN General Assembly on 3 November 2014 in New York, the role of the Rule of Law was examined within the framework of ending impunity. Diplomats, experts, and civil society representatives discussed the ultimate responsibility of States to prevent crimes and to punish perpetrators through a court of law, which is essential for human rights and dignity, the rule of law and democracy, and sustainable development. Read more.


Regional commemoration of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists for Maghreb

UNESCO organized a regional conference for Maghreb on 3 and 4 November 2014 in Tunis, Tunisia, in partnership with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Embassy of France, the Council of Europe and Reporters Without Borders, and with the participation of civil organizations advocating for freedom of expression. The conference aimed at promoting dialogue between the media and civil society to enhance journalists' safety and raise awareness about the adverse effects of impunity upon society. Read more.


International Civil Society reaffirm support of UN Plan of Action

Civil society delegates at the third UN Inter-Agency Meeting on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity released a statement underscoring their continued support of the UN Plan of Action and its implementation among multiple stakeholders. The statement focuses on the reinforcement of national initiatives - in compliance with regional decisions - to ensure a comprehensive approach into tackling impunity. It was signed by 23 international NGOs which monitor freedom of expression worldwide. Read the full statement here.


A picture is worth thousand words - Infographic from Mexico wins contest to raise awareness on ending impunity

Impunity is a widespread issue regarding crimes committed against the most visible members of society, although in itself it remains pervasive from the public eye. Consequently, UNESCO partnered with the online graphic community to launch an international infographic competition to raise awareness through social media. With over 130 submissions, the competition was an overwhelming success. The emphasis was laid upon the clear narrative and shareability of this grim issue, which were both found in the winning submission from Mexico. Read more.


Safety of journalists under scrutiny in Ghana

The state of journalists' safety in Ghana was the topic of a forum co-organized by UNESCO, the Ghana National Commission for UNESCO, and the UN Information Centre (Accra) on 3 November 2014, in Accra, the capital of Ghana. A paper on the topic was presented by the Executive Director of Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), Sulemana Braimah, where he called upon all stakeholders to ensure a safe media environment within the country. The subsequent discussions were moderated by a Member of the National Media Commission, Kwasi Gyan-Apenteng.


Inauguration of the National Monitoring Committee on the Safety of Journalists in Nigeria

The Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) and UNESCO inaugurated the National Monitoring Committee on the Safety of Journalists on 3 November 2014 in Abuja, Nigeria. The 12-member committee will closely monitor and keep record of violence and assaults committed against the Nigerian media. Members include representatives from the Nigerian Press Council, law enforcement, NUJ, Nigeria Guild of Editors, National Broadcasting Commission, National Association of Women Journalists, and the Radio, Television and Theatre Arts Workers Union.


CPJ releases a special report on impunity

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) released a new report on impunity for crimes against journalists, entitled 'The Road to Justice: Breaking the Cycle of Impunity In the Killing of Journalists'. The special report zooms in on countries where impunity "thrives" and features a case study on Colombia where violence against the media has waned. Efforts by national governments and the international community are also highlighted. The report concludes with numerous recommendations to multiple stakeholders. Consult the report here.

© The Stream/Al Jazeera

Al-Jazeera's 'The Stream' discusses the responsibilities of governments to end impunity

'What steps can governments take to make reporting safer?' was the thematic question for Al-Jazeera's The Stream episode on impunity surrounding crimes against journalists. Broadcast on 28 October 2014, the fully interactive webshow discussed the issue in-depth and allowed web users to contribute via Twitter directly. Interventions were made by UNESCO, CPJ, and various experts. Watch the entire episode of Al-Jazeera's The Stream here.


Human Rights Council adopts new resolution highlighting the Safety of Journalists and Impunity

The Human Rights Council concluded its 27th session with the adoption of 32 resolutions, amongst which a new resolution on the safety of journalists (A/HRC/RES/27/5) condemning unequivocally all attacks and violence against journalists and media workers. The Council reiterated the call upon Member States to "develop and implement strategies for combating impunity" and to "promote a safe and enabling environment" for the media. Read more.


IFJ Leads First International Mission to Gaza since ceasefire

An IFJ-led delegation has carried out the first international mission to Gaza following the ceasefire. In mid-September 2014, leaders of the IFJ, its affiliate, the Palestinian Journalists' Syndicate, and a number of leading Egyptian journalists undertook a solidarity visit to meet with journalists in Gaza and offer their support and solidarity. The mission was organised by the Federation of Arab Journalists (FAJ). Read more.


IFJ Mission to Mexico Demands End to Impunity for Violence against Journalists

In a mission to Mexico, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has called on Mexican authorities and media owners to step up efforts to protect the safety and freedom of the media in the country and to introduce procedures to help tackle impunity for violence against journalists. Read more.


Unions from Arab States and Middle East agreed on recommendations to improve and protect local media

Representatives of 18 unions from the Arab World and the Middle East have agreed on a number of recommendations to help improve journalism in the region, including plans to campaign to unionise journalists working for major Arab satellite TV stations and support for a regional body to protect media freedom. The recommendations were agreed at the IFJ Regional Meeting in the Arab World & Middle East, which was held in Casablanca, Morocco, from 28-30 October 2014. Read more.


New report on the safety of journalists and the danger of impunity by the UNESCO Director-General

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova published a new report on the safety of journalists and the danger of impunity, which will be presented on the 29th session of the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) Council Meeting. Investigating information received from the concerned Member States, the report provides an in-depth analysis of the cases of killings of journalists worldwide and their judicial proceedings from 2006 to 2013. Consult the report here.