Newsletter - Issue 17 (November/December 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.


International Day to End Impunity

2 November marked the second commemoration of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists (IDEI). Multiple high-level events were held worldwide and raised awareness of the issue of impunity and its ramifications on the safety of journalists. Representatives of a variety of stakeholders participated in twenty events organized worldwide by UNESCO and its partners. Read more on IDEI's dedicated website.


International stakeholders identify further fields of cooperation to combat impunity

The international build-up conference to IDEI, held on 9-10 October 2015 at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in San José, Costa Rica, identified elements for further cooperation among key players, particularly operators of judicial systems. It was organized by UNESCO, the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights with the support of 20 international partner institutions. Read more.


Global launch of the World Trends Report in Paris, London, and New York

On the occasion of International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, UNESCO released a report on World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development, with a special focus on digital communication and safety at events in Paris, London, and New York. The report examines recent developments in safety of journalists, the protection of digital sources, countering online hate speech, and the role of internet intermediaries and brings together contributions from a large number of leading researchers from different parts of the world. Read more.

© UNESCO/P. Chiang-Joo

UNESCO hosts high-level panel meeting to commemorate IDEI

UNESCO Director-General Bokova was joined by Ms Alice Bah Kuhnke, the Swedish Minister of Culture and Democracy, and Ms Bathsheba N. Crocker, the US Assistant Secretary at the Bureau of International Organization Affairs, on a high-level panel discussing the widespread issue of impunity and its consequences on society. Moderated by Ms Christiane Amanpour, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Freedom of Expression and Journalist Safety, the panel served as a platform to launch the latest World Trends Report and provided insight from different perspectives. Read more.

© UNESCO/Sheffield University

Responses to impunity mark IDEI commemoration in London

Journalists, international lawyers, human rights activists, and policymakers shared their understanding of the acute situation regarding the issue of impunity for crimes against journalists in two thematic panel discussions at the Houses of Parliament in London. First-hand accounts of violence and impunity as well as their prevention were examined within a judicial context. Co-organized by UNESCO and its partners Centre for Freedom of the Media (CFOM), Article 19, and PEN International, the event served to launch the new World Trends Report as well. Read more.

© UNESCO/Arun Abraham

The role of Member States and international resolutions to end impunity

Entitled Ending impunity for crimes against journalists: putting resolutions into practice, representatives of UN Member States and civil society debated the importance of international agreements and the role of national governments implementing them in the fight against impunity in an event to commemorate IDEI. A link with extremism and radicalization was identified throughout the discussion, which took place at the UN Headquarters in New York. Read more.


Supporting Safety of Journalists in Pakistan

Fifty participants joined a UNESCO workshop in Islamabad on 29 October in the build-up to IDEI on 2 November. The discussants examined the issues raised in the draft of a new study conducted by UNESCO and IRADA, covering journalists' safety and the problem of impunity in the country. Their feedback will be implemented in the final study, set to be released at the end of November. The research is based on the Journalists' Safety Indicators (JSI), which were developed through UNESCO's Intergovernmental Programme for the Development of Communication. Read more.

© HCDH/Lassaad Ben Achour

Workshop on Safety of Journalists held in Tunisia

As a part of the worldwide commemorations of IDEI, the workshop “Safety of journalists: practices and legislation in the transitional context”, was organized in Tunisia. Its aim was to assess the situation of safety of journalists within the country and discussing the legislative framework and legal practices of administrative and judicial investigations into attacks and crimes committed against journalists in the country. More than 80 people attended the symposium, who were introduced to the nationwide awareness campaign on Safety of Journalists as well. Read more.


Launch of a national initiative to combat impunity for crimes against Journalists in Iraq

During a dialogue event on the commemoration of IDEI on 12 November, UNESCO and its local partners, the Human Rights Commission in Iraq and the Iraqi Journalists Syndicate, urged the national authorities to implement all necessary measures to investigate crimes against journalists and to bring the perpetrators to justice. Five key areas were put forward, together with recommendations for concrete courses of action. Each stakeholder, including Iraqi institutions, approved this set of commitments and ensured their implementation. Read more.


Call for Global Design Contest World Press Freedom Day 2016

UNESCO is holding a competition to design the global look of the next World Press Freedom Day, which takes place in Helsinki, Finland on 3 May 2016. Under the theme "This Is Your Right! Access to Information and Fundamental Freedoms”, the winning design will be used in all communication materials regarding the globally celebrated event. All interested designers can submit their design by sending it to wpfd2016(at) The deadline has been extended to Monday 7 December 2015. More information is available here.

© UNESCO/Knight Center

Second MOOC on Freedom of Expression in Mexico

The second free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on "Freedom of expression and protection of journalists in an international legal framework" has started on 26 October and will continue until 4 December. Aimed at media and justice workers of the State of Coahuila, Mexico, it will focus on topics ranging from the international legal framework on freedom of expression to the right to information. The course is facilitated by the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas and the Mexico office of UNESCO. Read more here; the MOOC can be accessed here (in Spanish).

© UNESCO/P. Chiang-Joo

Secretary of State Kerry reaffirms US' commitment to Safety of Journalists at UNESCO visit

US Secretary of State John Kerry reinforced the commitment of the United States to UNESCO's work on a visit to the Secretariat on 18 October, with the Safety of Journalists and Freedom of Expression as one of the top priorities. "We’re actively engaged in efforts to ensure the security of all media workers", he stated during his visit. "We fully support UNESCO’s role in implementing the 2012 UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. Journalists must secure our support.", he concluded. Read more.

© Columbia Journalism School

US establishes protocol at embassies for journalists under threat

Mr Richard Stengel, Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs of the US Department of State, announced the establishment of a new protocol at all US embassies aimed at journalists under threat. During the panel discussion "New Strategies in Defense of Global Press Freedoms" at Columbia University on 2 November, Mr Stengel ensured "a clear protocol for personnel at all of our posts around the world to help journalists who may be under threat" and other initiatives by the US to promote freedom of expression. Read his full statement here.

© UNESCO/Evelyne Gbe Deba

Training for security forces in Côte d'Ivoire on freedom of expression

From 12 to 14 November 2015, a three-day workshop on freedom of expression and public order was held by the UNESCO Office in Abidjan with the support of UNDP. Five journalists and 25 officers of the national police of Côte d'Ivoire participated in the training held in Grand-Bassam. The training, which was conducted by an expert of UNESCO, focused on the importance of improving communication between security forces and journalists, especially during events likely to generate tensions (demonstrations, riots, trials etc.). Read more.


Myanmar Media Stakeholders discuss safety of journalists during the elections

UNESCO organized a National Dialogue on the Safety of Journalists during Elections in Yangon on 14 September 2015. The workshop provided a timely platform to align and build joint strategies around the media coverage of the electoral process and safety of journalists before, during and after the elections. Representatives from the Government of Myanmar, media organizations and other relevant stakeholders openly discussed the role of media in the upcoming 8 November 2015 Elections as well as ways to ensure the safety of journalists. Read more.


UNESCO training material helps improve relations between journalists and Iraqi police

UNESCO’s manual “Freedom of Expression and Public Order” was the main reference of a series of workshops to improve the relations between police and journalists in Iraq. The series of training events were held from August to September 2015 in Iraq’s Ministry of Interior in Baghdad and were organized by the Burj Babel Organization with the logistical support from the International Media Support. The manual was launched in November 2014 and aims at improving the relations between security forces and journalists. It can be consulted here. Read more.


Strengthening digital safety for journalists

As part of its series on Internet Freedom, UNESCO distributed the in-depth study Building digital safety for journalism: a survey of selected issues in March 2015. Utilizing an inclusive approach, the report analyses and explains 12 key digital threats to journalism, ranging from hacking of journalistic communications, through to Denial-of-Service attacks on media websites. It also provides recommendations to all relevant actors. The Internet Freedom series highlights key aspects of the cybersphere, and had its first publication in 2011. Read more.


OSCE Expert Meeting on online harassment targeted at women

The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media convened an expert meeting on 17 September in Vienna, Austria on the digital safety of female journalists. Online attacks, threats, and harassment are more and more frequent, where female bloggers, journalists, and other media actors are disproportionately singled out. Entitled "New challenges to Freedom of Expression: Countering online abuse of female journalists", the expert meeting discussed best practices and recommended courses of action to counter this trend. Read more.


CPJ releases its global impunity index for 2015

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) published its annual global impunity index, Getting away with Murder, on 8 October 2015. The index covers the last decade and ranks countries based on cases of killed journalists and the rate of impunity. Only countries where there are five or more unsolved cases are included. It is the eighth time CPJ has compiled this index, which provides an indication to which countries suffer the most from impunity for crimes against the media. Read more.


Closing the gap between the field and the international normative instruments

On 15 September 2015, Article 19 hosted a side event at the 30th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, entitled 'Safety of Journalists: Closing the Implementation Gap'. The high-level panel discussion focused on best practices to end impunity, including the international efforts and their implementation on regional, national, and local levels. It consisted of representatives from intergovernmental bodies (OSCE, OAS, and the African Commission for Human and Peoples’ Rights) as well as NGOs (Unwanted Witness Uganda and ARTICLE 19).

© UNDP/Tanzanian Police Force

Training Manual Tanzanian Police Force includes chapter on safety of journalists

With the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Tanzanian law enforcement revised and published the third edition of its training manual "Human Rights, Gender and the Role of Police in Democratic Elections". The publication covers primarily the role of security forces when safeguarding a democracy and its elections. Chapter 11 of the manual refers directly to their relationship with the media and provides information on how to protect journalists when they are carrying out their job. Consult the chapter here.


UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression Kaye released report on the protection of whistleblowers and sources

In his most recent report to the UN General Assembly, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression David Kaye focused on the protection of sources and whistleblowers around the world. International and national protections are examined and concrete recommendations to improve them have been put forward by the UN Special Rapporteur. Furthermore, the report states that not only national governments but also international organizations, such as the UN, should take further strides in this matter. Read more.




International conference for Media Leaders on Safety of Journalists in February 2016

On 5 February 2016, UNESCO will co-organize with its partners the international conference "News organizations standing up for the safety of media professionals", which will take place in the headquarters of the Organization. The forum provides a strategic opportunity for news organizations from all regions and Member States to discuss existing and new measures to protect journalists. It will be attended by leading decision makers of news organizations, including owners, publishers, and editor-in-chiefs. More information will be available soon.