Newsletter - Issue 23 (November/December 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.


International Day to End Impunity 2016

The third edition of the International Day to End Impunity was commemorated worldwide with more than 25 events in order to address the heavy toll journalists and media workers have paid and continue to face through the cycle of violence fostered by impunity. Highlights included events organized in Bogóta, Colombia, the Hague, the Netherlands, and New York, USA. Concrete steps for monitoring and reporting mechanisms were taken in both Iraq and Pakistan. For more information, please consult the dedicated website of IDEI.


Calling for concrete actions on the Safety of Journalists, UN and partners mark the Day to End Impunity

On 27 October 2016, together with the Permanent Mission of Greece to the UN, UNESCO organized an interactive panel discussion on Safety of Journalists and Ending Impunity in Conflict Situations at the UN Headquarters in New York. The high-level debate was attended by two Syrian media freedom activists: Mr Mazen Darwish, laureate of the 2015 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize, and Mr Abdalaziz Alhamza, co-founder of the media collective Raqqa is being Slaughtered Silently. They both reinforced the call for more action. Read more.


Key findings of new UNESCO Director-General's Report on Safety of Journalists released

The key findings of the 2016 UNESCO Director-General Report on the Safety of Journalists and the Danger of Impunity reaffirms the widespread character of impunity across the globe. 827 journalists were killed during the last decade and in only 8% of the cases were the perpetrators brought to justice. Parenthetically, UNESCO welcomes an increase in the number of Member States showing stronger will to monitor and report on these crimes. The key findings were released on the International Day to End Impunity. View the Report's highlights here. Read more.


Visibility campaign 'My killers are still free' highlights the hardship of impunity of journalists' killings

In concurrence with International Day to End Impunity on 2 November, the visibility campaign My killers are still free visualized the key findings of the new UNESCO Director-General Report on the Safety of Journalists and the Danger of Impunity and emphasized the duress of impunity through audio testimonials of those who keep the memory of killed media workers alive. Powerful and heartfelt statements of close relatives, co-workers, and lawyers demonstrate the consequences of impunity and the ultimate price journalists have paid. Discover them and the visuals here.


IPDC Council welcomes new Director-General Report and urges Member States to monitor the safety of journalists

The fifth Report of UNESCO’s Director General, Irina Bokova, on the killings of journalists and judicial follow-up has been welcomed by the 39 Member States of the Intergovernmental Council of the Organization’s International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC). During its 30th session from 17 to 18 November, the Council expressed its concern for the increase of attacks against the media and urged Member States to further monitor the safety of journalists in compliance with Sustainable Development Goal Target 16.10. Read more.


Member States establish “Group of Friends” to support UNESCO’s work on the safety of journalists

In the light of an unacceptably high rate of impunity for crimes against journalists, Member States pledged to cooperate more strongly with UNESCO in advancing its work on the safety of journalists. At the initiative of the Austrian Delegation to UNESCO, 29 UNESCO Permanent Delegates met on 15 November 2016 to discuss better cooperation among Member States and with UNESCO to prevent violence, protect journalists in danger and prosecute perpetrators. They agreed to exchange their progress on how to break the cycle violence against journalists. Read more.


UNESCO and Ibero-American Judicial Summit agreement reinforces freedom of expression and journalists’ safety

A Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen cooperation on issues of freedom of expression, access to information, transparency and the safety of journalists was signed on 17 November by UNESCO’s Director-General, Irina Bokova, and the Chief of Justice of the Supreme Court of Uruguay, Ricardo C. Pérez Manrique, on behalf of the Ibero-American Judicial Summit. The agreement reinforces the capacity of UNESCO and the Summit in their shared objective to improve freedom of expression and information, transparency and journalist safety. Read more.

© UNESCO/S. McCabe

Palestinian universities to pilot model course on safety of journalists

Nineteen Palestinian universities will pilot a new syllabus on journalists’ safety developed by UNESCO and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) for the Arab region, following a national seminar organized by UNESCO in Ramallah end of September. The Media Safety Curriculum prepares journalism students to operate safely and to inform the public objectively. It includes theoretical and practical knowledge in 11 course modules and was finalized after a two-year process. The Palestinian authorities officially adopted it on 18 October 2016. Read more.


Law enforcement and journalists join forces in Mali

From 21 to 26 November, 50 Malian law enforcement officers and ten journalists were trained to enhance their professional relationship. In partnership with EUCAP, UNESCO organized two three-day trainings in the post-conflict country in 2016. Security procedures in the field were highlighted, as well as how to guarantee media access to the information they need. As a result of its success, more trainings are now envisioned in the region. Participants of the first training in Mali share their experiences and thoughts on the importance of these trainings in this video.


IFJ calls for an end to impunity by turning words into action

The International Federation of Journalists' (IFJ) 2016 campaign to end impunity for crimes against journalists aims at holding those in power accountable for their impunity records across the globe. Furthermore, it condemns violence and threats made against journalists. This year, the focus is also laid on four specific countries: India, Pakistan, Mexico, and Yemen. In addition, the campaign highlights 'Impunity Wins', where resolved cases of killed journalists are featured in detail. IFJ calls on the public to take part by providing concrete actions and materials. Read more.


UNESCO Director-General report presented at IFJ End Impunity Conference

On Monday 7 November 2016, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) organized the conference Turning words into action in Brussels, Belgium. Focusing on concrete actions to end impunity for journalists' killings, it recommended to address the weaknesses in the international legal framework. UNESCO presented the 2016 UNESCO Director-General Report on the Safety of Journalists and the Danger of Impunity to the public of journalists, journalists’ organizations, international governmental and non-governmental organizations, and academics. Read more.


Press Freedom Groups Launch Video Campaign Calling for an End to Attacks against Journalists in Yemen

On the occasion of the International Day to End Impunity, several international press freedom groups and Yemeni journalists have highlighted the plight of media in Yemen in a new video campaign. It features testimonies from a dozen Yemeni journalists and illustrates the reality of many journalists and media professionals who risk their life to report information to the public in Yemen. The campaign aims to raise awareness among the public in Yemen as well as internationally about the issue of safety of journalists within the country. Read more.


CPJ's 2016 Global Impunity Index showcases where killings of journalists go unpunished

The annual Global Impunity Index by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) analyzes a decade of killings of journalists and media workers across the world and provides a ranking of the countries where impunity has taken root. In the 2016 edition, 13 countries are listed which have five or more unsolved cases of killed media personnel. The international NGO concludes that some of the highest rates of impunity can be attributed to murders by Islamist extremist groups. The in-depth analysis and index itself can be accessed here.


IFEX says 'No' to impunity by highlighting several emblematic cases

IFEX, the global network of freedom of expression organizations, continued to highlight its No Impunity-campaign to increase global political will in combating the widespread impunity of acts of violence against those who use their right to freedom of expression. One of the main features of the campaign is the Stories in the fight against impunity, which focuses on three emblematic cases of impunity in Gambia, Colombia, and Pakistan. The stories provide a clear voice to the victims and can be viewed here. Learn more about IFEX' efforts to end impunity here.


RSF publishes grim gallery to condemn the attacks on press freedom and journalists

In order to mark International Day to End Impunity, Reporters without Borders (RSF) published a grim portrait gallery of 35 presidents, politicians, religious leaders, militias, and criminal organizations that it considers to have repeatedly encroached freedom of expression through intimidation, harassment, detainment, or even lethal attacks. The campaign provides a detailed record on each 'predator of press freedom' by listing the ways they limit freedom of expression and endanger the safety of media professionals. Read more.

© Index on Censorship

Index on Censorship highlights five cases of impunity across Europe on 2 November

Index on Censorship, an international organization promoting and defending freedom of expression, calls for more action to ensure impunity does not take root by highlighting five cases of impunity in Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine. Through its Mapping Media Freedom platform, which monitors threats to media freedom across Europe, Index on Censorship aims to outline risks in each country and provide support. Since 2014, the platform has accumulated over 2,500 verified reports of violations to press freedom. Read more.


Impunity for crimes against African journalists: A closer look

The Africa Freedom of Information Centre released a video detailing the impunity of crimes committed against journalists on the continent. Over the past decade, 104 journalists and media workers were killed in Africa according to UNESCO's records. Only 4 of these cases are to be considered resolved, constituting a mere 4%. The organization advocating for freedom of information urges "all Member States of the African Union to protect and ensure the safety of journalists". The video is available here. Read more.


ARTICLE 19 releases new analytic report on crimes against media in Brazil

Published on the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, the report Cycle of Silence - impunity in murders of communicators in Brazil by ARTICLE 19 analyzes in-depth twelve cases of journalists killed in Brazil between 2012 and 2014. Only five cases have seen judicial follow-up with either indictments for the perpetrators or the start of court proceedings. For the remaining seven, investigations proved to be insufficient or inconclusive and resulted in impunity for those responsible. Consult the report in full here. Read more.


IFJ publishes Media Safety Advisory for journalists operating in Iraq

With the commencement of the military offensive in northern Iraq, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has issued a media safety advisory for reporters covering the conflict. Prepared by an international media safety expert, it contains best practices and procedures for journalists to operate safely at the frontlines. According to UNESCO's statistics, 59% of killings of journalists during the last two years took place in countries where there has been armed conflict. The media safety advisory can be consulted here. Read more.

© UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

New HRC Resolution commends UNESCO’s work on the safety of journalists

At its 33rd session on 29 September 2016, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) adopted a new Resolution on the safety of journalists which welcomes the work of UNESCO in fortifying media safety worldwide. Resolution A/HRC/RES/33/2 recognizes the importance of the safety of journalists for the 2030 Development Agenda and urges States to enhance their cooperation with UNESCO to implement the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. It is the third HRC Resolution which focuses specifically on the safety of journalists. Read more.

© IFJ/Paula Dear

Jordan signs Declaration on Media Freedom in the Arab World

On 12 October 2016, Jordan signed the Declaration on Media Freedom in the Arab World as a sign of commitment to its 16 key principles including freedom of expression, freedom of information, and journalists safety. The Declaration aims to fortify the media environment in the Arab world, with an emphasis on media freedom, independent journalism and the right to information. Jordan is the third country to sign the Declaration, after Palestine and Tunisia earlier this year. Read more.


Safety trainings in the Arab States: 42 journalists trained by IFJ in Egypt

Two safety trainings were conducted by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its partner the Egyption Journalists Syndicate (EJS) on 29-31 October and 5-7 November. As part of its efforts in the Arab region to enhance the safety of media workers, IFJ has been organizing trainings in Egypt, Iraq, Yemen, and Palestine with more scheduled in Sudan and Mauritania. The trainers are from the IFJ regional safety Training of Trainers programme, which has been in place since 2011 and consists of network of local safety trainers. Read more.


IFJ runs safety training for journalists and Media workers in Yemen

Seventeen journalists and photographers participated in a two-day training in September 2016 on risk management, first aid, and safety procedures in Sana'a, the capital of Yemen. Organized by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its local partner, the training aimed to fortify local journalists' and media workers' safety awareness. The safety training forms part of a long-term media safety programme implemented across Yemen by IFJ. According to UNESCO's records, nine journalists lost their lives in the line of duty in Yemen. Read more.


Safety of journalists, human rights and sustainable development highlighted at UNHRC in Geneva

As part of the build-up to commemorating the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists (IDEI) on 2 November 2016, a panel discussion took place on 23 September in Geneva during the 33rd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC). The event provided an opportunity to address linkages between the safety of journalists and the Sustainable Development Goals in the context of SDG 16, Target 10 stipulating “to ensure public access to information and protecting fundamental freedoms”. Read more.


UNESCO and Al Jazeera call for increased safety of journalists at first IDUAI celebration in Doha

UNESCO Doha Office and Al Jazeera Media Network celebrated the first International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI) on 28 September 2016 with a conference focusing on the need to improve the safety of journalists to enhance public access to information and the ethical dimensions of access to information. Organized at the Al Jazeera Training and Development Centre in Doha, Qatar, the conference hosted several high-level speakers and called for more tangible efforts from all stakeholders to bolster the safety of media workers worldwide. Read more.


Comprehensive Report on Safety of Journalists in Nepal published

In September 2016, UNESCO published a study report titled Supporting Safety of Journalists in Nepal: An assessment based on UNESCO’s Journalist Safety Indicators (JSI). The report documents the national state of journalist’s safety and the issue of impunity by providing an overview of the safety situation of journalists in Nepal. It also points out the context of safety and the responsibility of all stakeholders in addressing the issue of journalists’ safety in the country. The report is the latest title in the JSI series. The full publication can be consulted in full here. Read more.


Safety of journalists brought closer to academic community thanks to Helsingin Sanomat Foundation

Over the last two years, Ms Reeta Pöyhtäri, Research Fellow funded by the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation in the Division of Freedom of Expression and Media Development at UNESCO headquarters, coordinated UNESCO’s Journalists’ Safety Indicators. She provided her expertise and oversight to their application in three different countries and facilitated academic cooperation on the safety of journalists. Moreover, UNESCO's Research Agenda on the Safety of Journalists was consolidated under her tenure to encourage academic inquiry into these issues. Read more.


UNESCO is seeking nominations for UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize 2017

UNESCO invites the governments of Member States, in consultation with their National Commissions, as well as international and regional professional NGOs, active in the field of press freedom, to nominate candidates for next year’s UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. It rewards each year a person, organization or institution that has made a notable contribution to the defense and/or promotion of press freedom anywhere in the world, especially if risks have been involved. Deadline to submit is 15 February 2017. Read more.

© Guillermo Cano Foundation

UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize is renewed for a period of six years

The renowned UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize has been renewed for a six-year term, which was decided by the UNESCO Executive Board at its 200th session during October 2016. The UNESCO Member States also agreed to include digital media in the candidatures. Created in 1997, the Prize recognizes heroism in journalism and is named after the Colombian editor Guillermo Cano Isaza, who was assassinated in Bogotá, Colombia in 1986. It is awarded annually on World Press Freedom Day (3 May) by an international jury. Read more.


ACHPR strengthening Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists in Africa

The African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) serves as the continental court on issues of freedom of expression, safety of journalists, and impunity. As one of the main partners of UNESCO for International Day to End Impunity 2016, ACHPR strengthens the Rule of Law and press freedom on the African continent through its binding decisions. Watch the informational video in English here. French and Arabic versions are available as well.


GJS offers safety courses to journalists and media professionals

Global Journalist Security (GJS) provides online and physical courses to journalists, human rights defenders, and NGOs on safety in both conflict and non-conflict zones. Hostile Environments and Emergency First Aid Trainings (HEFATs) are organized once a month, together with Women's Awareness and Safety Trainings. These "in-the-field" trainings can be complemented with an online course on Risk Assessment. Capacity building of media to operate safely is one of the key components of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. Read more.




IGF 2016: UNESCO pre-event on safety of journalists both online and offline in Internet ecosystem

UNESCO will open the forthcoming 2016 Internet Governance Forum (IGF) with a pre-event on Protecting safety of journalists online and offline in global Internet Governance ecosystem in Guadalajara, Mexico, on 5 December 2016. On this occasion, the UN Plan of Action will be presented to UN agencies, governments, private sector, civil society, media institutions and other stakeholders on all levels who will be participating at IGF. The annual event is the multistakeholder platform to discuss public policy issues relating to the Internet.


UNESCO hosts debate on encryption and digital safety of journalists at IGF 2016

Encryption plays a crucial role in protecting online safety for all users, including journalists and media actors. Digital harassment is an increasingly frequent occurrence that has forced journalists to abandon stories or even the profession. This type of intimidation is especially acute for women journalists. UNESCO aims to carry forward the human rights discussion on encryption by hosting a debate at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) 2016 and launching its latest publication of its Internet Freedom Series, entitled Human Rights Aspects of Encryption.


World Press Freedom Day 2017 - Save the date!

World Press Freedom Day 2017 will take place in Jakarta, Indonesia from 1-4 May 2017. Sustainable Development Goal 16 will be the main topic of the 24th international celebration of freedom of expression, press freedom, and freedom of information, which will be complemented by a research conference on safety of journalists. It will be the first time that the main event of World Press Freedom Day is organized in Indonesia. Last year, World Press Freedom Day took place in Helsinki, Finland with a record attendance of over 900 participants. Read more.