Newsletter - Issue 20 (May/June 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.

© OKM/Katharina Koch

Access to information, journalists’ freedom and their safety at the core of World Press Freedom Day 2016

The main celebrations of World Press Freedom Day 2016 in Helsinki, Finland highlighted the importance of press freedom, freedom of information, and safety of journalists. In her opening address, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova called upon governments to defend media freedom and insisted on justice being done for killed journalists. Several sessions and events focused more deeply on the issue of safety of journalists, including a two-day Research Conference held in conjunction with the main conference. Read more.


UNESCO's Research Conference on the Safety of Journalists paved the way for academic research cooperation

On 3 and 4 May 2016, UNESCO and the UNESCO Chair at the University of Gothenburg organised in collaboration with several partners a two-day research conference on the safety of journalists during the celebrations of World Press Freedom Day in Helsinki, Finland. The conference brought together more than 50 academics from six continents who shared an understanding that journalists are severely threatened around the world and that academic inquiry can contribute to the creation of safe media conditions. Read more.


Difference Day shows the daily life of Syrian and Tunisian journalists in Brussels, Belgium

Highlighting the historical and contemporary significance of World Press Freedom Day and the importance of journalist safety, UNESCO opened Difference Day on 3 May in Brussels and invited visitors to explore challenges and positive strides to press freedom. A 360° virtual reality film gave participants a look into the daily life of Syrian journalists, reporting from the frontlines under extreme conditions. UNESCO also screened a film on a training programme in collaboration with the Tunisian Ministry of Interior for security forces in Tunisia. Read more.


Safety of journalists essential in achieving the SDGs

At the 11th facilitation meeting of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) on 4 May, participants delivered a strong message on the role of the media in achieving the 2030 Development Agenda "A free press, independent and plural media and investigative journalism as well as emerging social media and big data is essential to meeting all targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)." The Safety of Journalists plays a key role in this regard, as challenges towards SDG target 16.10, which aims to protect fundamental freedoms, were reviewed. Read more.


UNSMIL and UNESCO call for greater safety of media workers in Libya

On World Press Freedom Day 2016, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) and UNESCO called for a safer media environment for journalists working in Libya. "Journalists in Libya need protection so that they can carry out their work independently and contribute to building peace and unity in the country," said Martin Kobler, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Libya. Ghaith Fariz, UNESCO Representative to Libya, highlighted the importance of journalistic standards and conflict-sensitive reporting in managing the risks media face. Read more.


Arab Declaration for media freedom adopted in Morocco

Press freedom groups, human rights activists, and journalists' unions adopted on World Press Freedom Day 2016 a Declaration pushing for more media freedom and better press conditions within the Arab region. At a conference hosted by the International Federation of Journalists and the Syndicat National des Journalistes Marocain in Casablanca, 16 core principles were set out to achieve the highest international media freedom standards as well as to protect and enhance journalists' rights, including their safety. The Declaration can be consulted here. Read more.


Journalists unions worldwide demand "no hiding place for those who violate media freedom"

Journalists' unions from over twenty different countries accross the world participated in a survey on press freedom violations and journalists' rights, conducted by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and published on World Press Freedom Day 2016. Jim Boumelha, president of IFJ, stated: "This survey exposes a shocking toll of violations of media freedom and a woeful lack of willingness on the part of too many governments and authorities to act to defend journalists." The results of the survey can be consulted here. Read more.


Rwandan police officers and journalists committed to improve their working relationship

When an attack is perpetrated against a journalist, it is not only a crime against the individual and more explicitly its profession, but rather against something much wider: namely, the free flow of information and ideas in society. Rwanda National Police Officers and media practitioners showed their dedication to improving the safety of journalists during the workshop “Safety of Journalists and Public Order”, which was held from 21 to 23 April 2016 at the Rwanda National Police Headquarters in Kigali, Rwanda. Read more.


Training tools for Freedom of Expression, Access to Public Information and the Safety of journalists adopted by the Ibero-American Judicial Summit

From 13-15 April 2016, twenty-three Member States of the Ibero-American Judicial Summit convened for their Plenary Assembly in Asunción, Paraguay and declared the online course for the judiciary within the region on safety of journalists as well as the “Political-pedagogical guide on incorporating the subject of freedom of expression and access to public information in the training of judicial officers” to be important training tools for magistrates. Their adoption constitutes a major step forward in ensuring the Safety of Journalists and the 2030 Development Agenda. Read more.


Draft bill for the protection of journalists introduced in Paraguay

Following up on its commitment made earlier this year towards improving the safety of journalists and the protection of freedom of expression, the government of Paraguay took its first concrete step with the introduction of a draft bill aiming to create a mechanism for the protection of journalists and media workers. Since 2006, six journalists have been killed while bringing the news to the public and whose cases remain unresolved to this day. The envisioned protection mechanism would bolster a safer media environment within the South-American country. Read more.


Practical guide to develop national safety mechanisms for journalists released

On 21 April 2016, UNESCO and the Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD) released a Discussion Paper, entitled Supporting Freedom of Expression: A Practical Guide to Developing Specialised Safety Mechanisms, which provides direction and support to develop national safety mechanisms for the media. Such mechanisms are proving to be indispensable in protecting journalists and others who are attacked for exercising their right to freedom of expression, in what has been termed ‘censorship by killing’, as well as addressing the problem of impunity for such attacks. Read more.

© UN Photo/Sophia Paris

Free expression groups call on UN to appoint Special Representative for the Safety of Journalists

Together with 35 press freedom organisations, Reporters without Borders urged the General Assembly of the United Nations (UNGA) to appoint a Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for the safety of journalists. The press freedom collective stated that only a Special Representative can "assure the compliance of Member States with their obligations", referring to the Resolutions adopted by the UNGA and other international bodies, and would "significantly empower the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity". Read more.


Safety of Journalists training module for South Sudan

In collaboration with UNESCO, the Association of Media Development in South Sudan (AMDISS) - Media Development Institute developed a four week training module focused on the safety and protection of journalists and other media professionals. The training module will be used in all trainings conducted by AMDISS - Media Development Institute conducted within the North-African country and provides advice, guidelines, and materials to enhance, improve, and strengthen the safety of South Sudanese media. Consult the training module here.

© Eurovision Academy

7th meeting of the European network of security officers of the broadcasting sector in Oslo, Norway

The Eurovision Academy, the professional training branch of the European Broadcasting Union, organised its 7th Network & Learn for Security Officers in Oslo, Norway on 14 and 15 April 2016. Security officers of media houses have become important focal points within their organizations, providing training and advice to their colleagues covering stories in the field. This 7th training meeting serves as an exchange of best practices in addressing challenges to safety, crisis management, and protection of media personnel. Read more.


Building digital safety for journalism at RightsCon in the United States

On 1 April 2016, UNESCO organized a panel at RightsCon Silicon Valley in San Francisco, United States on strengthening the digital safety of journalists. A common theme was the importance of having security for all journalistic actors. Appearing on the panel were David Kaye, UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression and Opinion, and Guy Berger, UNESCO Director for Freedom of Expression and Media Development, amongst other panelists from civil society. RightsCon is the annual leading conference on the issues of internet and human rights. Read more.

© Shutterstock

Council of Europe adopts guidelines to protect media freedom and journalists

On 13 April 2016, the Council of Europe (CoE) adopted a set of guidelines aimed at the protection of journalists in its 47 Member States. The Committee of Ministers, CoE's decision-making body, encouraged Member States to review their legislation on media freedom and provided specific measures which can be taken to prevent violations of press freedom as well as prosecute crimes against journalists. The set of guidelines is another concrete step to strengthen journalists' safety, following the launch of CoE's online platform on Safety of Journalists last year. Read more.


UNESCO and its partners deliver a manifesto on Safety of Journalists in Brazil

On 10 March 2016, the Association of Brazilian Radio and Television Broadcasters, the Brazilian Radio and Television Association, the National Association of Magazine Publishers, the National Association of Newspapers, and the UNESCO Office in Brazil delivered a manifesto defending the safety of journalists to the Social Communications Secretariat of the Presidency (SECOM). In response to recent acts of violence against journalists and the media, the manifesto called for measures which guarantee journalists’ security and their ability to operate openly. Read more.


Launch of a new platform to monitor online threats against women journalists

Together with the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) launched a new online platform where women journalists can report threats via encrypted messages. Launched on International Women's Day on 8 March 2016, the Women's Reporting Point serves as an alarm centre for female media workers, where they can report threats, attacks, and seek help or advice. In a later stage, the messages will be collected in a database to analyze the scale of the problem across Europe. Read more.


Press freedom groups urge West-African governments to prioritise safety of journalists and access to information

During the West Africa Conference on Media and Participatory Governance, held in Accra, Ghana on 15 March 2016, media development and press freedom organisations in West Africa have called upon the state governments in the region to "create and maintain, in law and in practice, a safe and enabling environment" for the media and to "take steps to tackle impunity for crimes against journalists". Furthermore, the participants of the conference urged to implement access to information frameworks and laws within West-African countries. Read more.

© Shaligram Tiwar

International Partnership calls for journalist safety mechanism in Nepal

The Nepal International Media Partnership (NIMP), an alliance of 14 international media development organisations, called for a journalist safety mechanism within the South-Asian country. Furthermore, it urged for "effective steps" in resolving all cases of attacks on journalists, both past and present. These recommendations, amongst others, form part of NIMP's media assessment, conducted during its eighth mission to Nepal in April 2015. NIMP aims to strengthen safety of journalists efforts and to reform media policies in Nepal. Their assessment can be consulted here. Read more.


UNESCO Promotes the Safety of Women Journalists and Filmmakers

UNESCO New Delhi organized two panel discussions at the 12th International Association of Women in Radio & Television (IAWRT) Asian Women's Film Festival, held from 3-5 March 2016 in New Delhi, India. Entitled 'Women Living in Conflict' and 'Women Journalists Reporting from Conflict Zones', the panel discussions served as a platform for discussion and telling first-person accounts from women filmmakers and journalists on their motivations to report stories from the world's most difficult and volatile regions. Read more.


Frank La Rue appointed as new Assistant Director-General of Communication and Information

Frank La Rue has been appointed by the UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova as the new Assistant Director-General for the division of Communication and Information. Mr La Rue from Guatemala has extensive experience in the field of freedom of expression and the safety of journalists, serving as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on these issues from 2008 to 2014. Prior to his appointment, Mr La Rue was active as Special Advisor to Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, a human rights advocacy organization. Mr La Rue commenced his post in March 2016.


High-level security trainings for media professionals

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. 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.



© World Humanitarian Summit

World Humanitarian Summit to host a Special Session on Safety of Journalists

The World Humanitarian Summit will take place from 23 to 24 May in Istanbul, Turkey and features a 'Special Session on Protecting Journalists and Promoting Independent Reporting in Crisis Situations'. It will bring together leading media practitioners to identify challenges and good practices of reporting on humanitarian crises, and to consider standards of reporting which prioritise the safety of their subjects. Additionally, the Special Session serves as an opportunity to reflect on how the increasing risk impacts objective information about crisis areas. Read more.

© Global Media Forum/DW

Global Media Forum from 13 to 15 June 2016 in Germany

Deutsche Welle's annual Global Media Forum (GMF) will take place in Bonn, Germany under the global theme of Media. Freedom. Values. The three-day international conference will cover a wide range of media trends and their relation with global development. Several parallel sessions will focus on digital safety and how media can help to prevent violence. Already in its ninth edition, the GMF addresses the role of media in politics and civil society every year. Registration for participation can be done online here. Read more.