Newsletter - Issue 12 (January/February 2015)

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.


UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova condemns attack on Charlie Hebdo

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova condemned the terrorist attack against the French satiricial weekly Charlie Hebdo on 7 January 2015. This attack caused the death of 12 people, among them eight journalists and cartoonists, and several others were severly injured. "Today’s unprecedented and horrifying attack is a tragic reminder to us all that the right to freedom of expression is fragile, and that those who defend it may pay the ultimate price for doing so", the Director-General said. Read more.


Journalism after Charlie: reflection and discussion day on freedom of expression at UNESCO

In the aftermath of the tragic attack against the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, UNESCO has invited the media, representatives from UNESCO’s Member States, opinion-makers, journalism schools as well as the civil society for a day dedicated to the freedom of expression on 14 January 2015. In two specific debates, the participants discussed about the safety of journalists and the intercultural dialogue in fragmented societies. Leading French cartoonist Plantu spoke alongside Director-General Irina Bokova. Read more.


IPDC Chair strongly supports UNESCO event "Journalism after Charlie"

Albana Shala, the chairperson of UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC), has expressed strong support for the safety of journalists during the event "Journalism after Charlie". While journalists are killed worldwide for different reasons, Shala pointed out that IPDC monitors the cases and draws attention to the fact that these killings are not just against individuals, but also an assault on everyone’s right to free expression, and on society’s right to know. Read more.

© UN

New resolution to reinforce security of journalists and to fight impunity

Sending a strong message to end impunity and to renew efforts to promote and protect human rights, especially for vulnerable groups, the UN General Assembly adopted 61 resolutions and seven decisions recommended by its Third Committee on 18 December 2014. Following the adoption of the landmark Resolution A/RES/68/163 on the safety of journalists in December 2013, the UN General Assembly reiterates its support for media workers and urges Member States to do their utmost to prevent violence, threats and attacks. Read more.


EFJ and Council of Europe launch a new "rapid reaction" platform for journalists under threat

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the Council of Europe, and other media freedom agencies have jointly launched an online public platform where alerts can be posted about journalists in danger or under threat. On 4 December 2014, the "rapid response" platform went live allowing factual information on threats and intimidation to be posted publicly as well as Member States' responses and action undertaken by media freedom organisations. Read more.


Safety of Somalian journalists addressed at an event in Mogadishu

The Somalia Media Support Group (SMSG) held a two-day dialogue session on free and safe Somalia media on 15 and 16 November 2014 in Mogadishu, Somalia. More than 40 participants, representing the Somalian media, the federal government, and security agents attended the event. The event contributed towards dialogue among media practitioners and security forces, exchanging international best practices on safety of journalists and projecting a way forward by drafting a national plan of action. Read more.


OIF condemns all violence against journalists on Dakar Summit

On their fifteenth intergovernmental summit in Dakar, Senegal, on 29 and 30 November 2014, the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) publicly condemned "all forms of violence committed against journalists and media professionals" and reiterated their commitment to "guarantee press freedom as well as pluralism within the media". The Declaration was signed by all the members of the OIF, comprising 77 countries where the French language and culture are significantly represented. Read the declaration here.


PEC releases its annual report on the killing of journalists

Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) released on 15 December 2014 its annual report on the killing of journalists in 2014. Middle East is labeled as the most violent region for media workers, with Gaza and Syria as the countries with the highest death toll in 2014. It estimates that around half of the journalists killed were intentionally targeted by governments, armed groups, and criminal gangs. PEC called for an international instrument to protect the media in order to effectively combat impunity in the concerned countries. Read more.

© Media Council of Kenya

Protocol and training manual on safety of journalists developed by the Media Council in Kenya

The Media Council of Kenya developed a safety and protection protocol and manual for journalists in Kenya. The project reacts on the increasing cases of harassment and threats to journalists across the country. In course of their duty, journalists are exposed to these incidents, while at the same time most Kenyan media houses lack basic safety measures for their staff. The project was funded by the Kenya Media Programme, which is a programme of the Dutch humanist organisation, HIVOS. Read more.


IFEX reflects on campaigns against impunity

From the first official UN Day to End Impunity on 2 November 2014, to Al-Sisi and ISIS targeting journalists, to new responses and surprising developments in Asia and Latin America, the International Freedom of Expression Exchange platform (IFEX) takes a look at some major developments that shaped the struggle against impunity in 2014. IFEX' weekly publication has put together several different stories, images, and pictures in order to reflect on the achievements as a network. Read more.


OHCHR publishes info sheet on safety of journalists

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) recently published an information sheet on the issue of safety of journalists and media workers. The upward trends of both attacks and impunity demand a protection of journalists that grant them equal treatment as civilians, especially in conflict zones. The information sheet provides fundamental information on the normative framework and presents UN initiatives and best practices as well. Read more.

© Al Jazeera

Al Jazeera's conference on hate speech and discrimination

On International Human Rights Day, 10 December 2014, Al Jazeera's human rights department held a conference on the "Role of Media in Combating Hate Speech and Discrimination". International guests from UNESCO and the UN human rights training centre for Southwest Asia and the Arab region were among the speakers. The conference coincided with a week in which government ministers in Europe and India have faced accusations of discriminatory speech and policies. Read more.

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Freedom of information and media needed for new UN Global Development Goals

On 4 December 2014, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon presented the United Nations General Assembly an advance version of his so-called “synthesis report”, entitled "The Road to Dignity by 2030". It will guide negotiations in 2015 for a new global agenda centred on people and the planet, and underpinned by human rights. This report states that “press freedom, access to information and freedom of expression” are essential “enablers of sustainable development”. Read more.




Save the Date! - WPFD 2015

Every year, 3 May is a date which celebrates the fundamental principles of press freedom; to evaluate press freedom around the world, to defend the media from attacks on their independence, and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession. Under the theme "Let Journalism Thrive! Towards Better Reporting, Gender Equality, and Safety in the Digital Age" the WPFD will take place in Riga, Latvia, from 2 until 4 May 2015. For further information see here.


HEFAT courses to be held in the USA and Uganda

The upcoming Hostile Environments and Emergency First-Aid Training (HEFAT) classes will take place in Washington, DC, in January, and in Kampala, Uganda, in February 2015. The week-long classes prepare conflict reporters, humanitarian professionals and diplomats for high-risk military and other contingencies. The curriculum focuses on risk assessment and planning as well as emergency first-aid with ample opportunity to hone skills under both stressful and realistic conditions. For further information read here.