Newsletter - Issue 19 (March/April 2016)

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.


Media executives, press organizations, and States brainstorm concrete measures to better journalists’ safety at UNESCO meeting

During the conference News organizations standing up for the safety of media professionals on 5 February at UNESCO headquarters, close to 300 media leaders from around the world have shared ideas for urgent action to enhance the safety of journalists and end impunity for attacks on them. Representatives from Member States were present as well, committed to engage in a constructive dialogue. Concrete courses of action which news organizations could take to protect journalists were put forward and the solidarity between media was highlighted. Read more.


IWMF presents comprehensive report on the current challenges to the safety of journalists

On the occasion of the UNESCO media leaders' conference on 5 February 2016, the International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF) presented the report entitled An overview of the current challenges to the safety and protection of journalists. Aimed specifically at news organizations, it covered the issue of impunity; the many dangers media professionals face; the lack of resources and solidarity of media organizations; and the measures currently being implemented to create a safe media environment worldwide. Recommendations are put forward at the end. Consult the report here.


IFJ's 25th report on killed journalists: at least 2297 have been killed

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) released its 25th annual report on the killings of journalists and media workers on 3 February. The report lists 2297 media casualties worldwide since 1990 and criticizes the levels of impunity for attacks on the press. Only one out of ten cases of killed media professionals are being investigated, and this lack of judicial follow-up fuels the violence targeted at the media. The annual IFJ reports raise awareness of safety of journalists and impunity and promotes the importance of a safe media environment. Read more.

© Panorama/Diego de León Sagot

Paraguay commits to creating a special investigative commission on attacks on journalists

During the 24th session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), Paraguay agreed to create a special commisssion at its Public Prosecutor's Office to bring perpetrators of attacks against journalists to justice. It accepted several other recommendations as well that were put forward to improve the human rights situation within its borders. According to UNESCO statistics, six cases of killed journalists are still ongoing. The UPR involves a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States and takes place three times a year in Geneva, Switzerland. Read more.


New Presidential decree supporting press freedom in Afghanistan

Following a month of multiple media casualties, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani issued a Presidential decree on 31 January safeguarding the media and combating impunity. The decree ruled that journalists and media houses cannot be prosecuted for any violations without consulting the Media Commission. Law enforcement agencies and security personnel are ordered to improve their relationship with media actors and cases of killed journalists are to be reopened to track down the perpetrators and bring them to a court of law. Read more.

© UNESCO Beirut

New curriculum on journalism safety discussed at regional conference in Beirut

In another step to leverage freedom of expression and safety of journalists, UNESCO Office in Beirut, in partnership with the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and in collaboration with the Directorate of Higher Education at the Lebanese Ministry of Education and Higher Education, organized a regional conference to discuss a new “Model course on the Safety of Journalists at universities” on 15-16 February. The conference aims to create an enabling environment for future journalists as well as update the journalism curricula at universities. Read more.

© Samir Hamid/JPA

Adoption of a safety action plan for Yemeni media

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the Federation of Arab Journalists (FAJ), and the Yemen Journalists’ Syndicate (YJS), adopted on 23 February the Safety Plan of Action for Yemen Media, following a solidarity meeting in Amman, Jordan. Senior Yemeni journalists and union leaders met to strengthen ties and agree on common strategies to ensure a safe and independent media environment. The Safety Plan called upon different stakeholders to uphold press freedom and protect journalists, and included recommended follow-up actions. Read more.


Pakistan press clubs prepare roll out of safety of journalists initiative

In February 2016, six press clubs in Pakistan have gathered to initiate a nationwide cooperative collaboration to establish journalist safety resources on their premises. Entitled the Pakistan Press Clubs Safety Hub, the major initiative serves as a system that monitors and documents every attack on media houses and journalists. It aims to support media professionals who are in distress by putting them in contact with the relevant institutions and authorities to request for assistance. The project is being implemented by NGO International Media Support. Read more.


Kenyan media stakeholders meet to discuss journalists' safety indicators

UNESCO, in partnership with African Media Initiative (AMI), organised a media stakeholder’s consultation in Nairobi, Kenya on 23 February on the state of journalist's safety and the issue of impunity. Based on UNESCO's Journalists’ Safety Indicators (JSI), the meeting reviewed and discussed the draft study report on media safety in Kenya, set to be released within the coming months. The JSI's identify the gaps and courses of action to ensure a safe media environment and are part of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. Read more.


Somalian security forces trained on safety of journalists and freedom of expression

UNESCO, in cooperation with United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), organised a three-day training workshop for security forces on safety of journalists and freedom of expression from 28 to 30 January 2016 in Mogadishu, Somalia. The training was based on UNESCO’s Training Manual on Freedom of Expression and Public Order, that aims at promoting transparency and the improvement of relations between security forces and the media. The training was a follow-up of a similar workshop held in June 2015 and attracted 30 participants. Read more.


IPDC will assess Safety of Journalists Projects at its 60th Bureau meeting

The International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) will assess the projects it is supporting related to the reinforcement of Safety of Journalists at its 60th Bureau meeting on 17 and 18 March at UNESCO Headquarters. The promotion of the safety of journalists is one of the key priorities of the IPDC, which implements activities to reinforce communication and freedom of expression worldwide. The IPDC Bureau consists of representatives from Member States and convenes annually. Read more.


High-level security trainings for journalists

The Washington D.C. based Global Journalist Security (GJS) offers Hostile Environments & Emergency First-Aid Training (HEFAT) courses to media professionals, human rights activists, and NGOs during the first half of 2016. The curriculum ranges from digital security to casualty care and are designed to prepare participants for high-risk environments. All trainings will be held in Washington D.C., United States of America. Learn more about the curriculum and how to register here.



© UNESCO/Marc James

World Press Freedom Day 2016

From 2-4 May 2016, the Finnish capital Helsinki will gather media professionals, government delegates, civil society representatives, and researchers at the International Conference celebrating World Press Freedom Day. Under the global thematic of Access to Information and Fundamental Freedoms: This Is Your Right!, panels, workshops, side events, plenaries, and seminars will delve deeper in the current challenges of press freedom and provide a platform for solidarity between all stakeholders. Please register here in order to participate. Read more.


IPI World Congress in March 2016 in Doha, Qatar

From 19 to 21 March, the International Press Institute World Congress Journalism at Risk - Safety & Professionalism in a Dangerous World will take place in Doha, Qatar. Hosted by the Al Jazeera Media Network, the international event will look deeper into ongoing developments within the media landscapes of the Arab Region as well as share best practices for journalists and media staff. Safety of journalists will be one of the common threads of the Congress, which will be attended by leading experts and top media commentators. Consult the event's website here.

© WMS/Al Jazeera

Third World Media Summit to take place in Doha in March 2016

The third World Media Summit's (WMS) main theme is The Future of News and News Organisations and brings together media organisations, industry experts, academia, and high-ranking officials. Discussions on the major challenges media face, including the safety of journalists, will be held in Doha, Qatar on 20-21 March 2016. WMS convenes every 2-3 years and serves as a platform for media organisations to interact and "pool collective wisdom for their survival and development." Read more about the three day summit here.