Newsletter - Issue 24 (January/February 2017)

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.


World Press Freedom Day 2017 - Open for registration

The main celebration of World Press Freedom Day 2017 (1-4 May, Jakarta, Indonesia) is now open for registration! Entitled Critical Minds for Critical Times: Media’s role in advancing peaceful, just and inclusive societies, World Press Freedom Day 2017 will focus on the contribution of media to the achievement of the 2030 Development Agenda, and in particular Sustainable Development Goal 16. The main celebration in Jakarta will be complemented by an academic conference on the safety of journalists. Registration for the main event is available here. 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.

© Pete O'Shea/CC BY 2.0

WPFD Academic Research Conference on Safety of Journalists 2017

UNESCO, in collaboration with the Hong Kong Baptist University, issued a call to invite contributions from the international community of scholars to the 2017 Academic Research Conference on Safety of Journalists. The conference, from 3 to 4 May 2017, will be held alongside UNESCO’s main celebration of World Press Freedom Day 2017 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Perspectives from all academic disciplines were encouraged, as to illuminate the various aspects of journalists' safety in diverse societal contexts. The call ended on 9 January 2017. Read more.


Journalist killed every four days in 2016

According to UNESCO's records, 101 journalists were killed in the pursuit of a story in 2016, which on average constitutes to one casualty every four days. This represents an increase when compared to the trend over the previous decade (2006-2015), set forth in the latest UNESCO Director-General’s Report on the Safety of Journalists and the Danger of Impunity published in November 2016, where every five days a media worker paid the ultimate toll for his or her work. The Arab region claimed the most lives, due to armed conflicts in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. Read more.


Internet governance should include journalists’ safety issues

A multi-stakeholder high-level panel organized by UNESCO during the 11th Internet Governance Forum (6-9 December 2016) in Guadalajara, Mexico has underlined the centrality of protecting journalists from both digital and physical threats. Internet freedom, encryption, privacy, gender-based harassment, impunity as well as national safety mechanisms were discussed in the high-level panel, which included Special Rapporteurs and civil society representatives. The need for better coordination and the involvement of other key partners were highlighted as well. Read more.


Paraguay signs pioneering commitment to journalists' safety

On 28 November 2016, a letter of intent between the Republic of Paraguay and UNESCO was signed in Asuncion, Paraguay to establish a permanent safety mechanism for journalists in the country. With the support of the Organization, Paraguay will become the first country in the world where the three powers of the government - executive, legislative and judicial - formally commit themselves to working towards strengthening access to information, freedom of expression, press freedom, and the safety of journalists. Read more.


UNESCO launches new publication on Human Rights and Encryption

On 7 December 2016, the latest addition to UNESCO Internet Freedom Series was launched during a special launch session at the Internet and Governance Forum 2016 (IGF) in Guadalajara, Mexico. Entitled Human Rights and Encryption, the study addresses the relevance of encryption to human rights in the media and communications field and offers policy recommendations. Encryption plays a key role in protecting freedom of expression and ensures the digital safety of journalists and their confidential sources. Read more.


Malian Security Forces Trained on Freedom of Expression and the Safety of Journalists

As a follow-up to the successful safety workshops held in June 2016, additional members of the Malian law enforcement and media sector were trained in November 2016 on how to establish more professional relations between them. The six days of training included security procedures in the field, the essential protection of journalists, ways to guarantee journalists access to the information they need, communicating with media, and freedom of expression. Read more.


Testimony from a Malian Police Sergeant: the Role of Security Forces in ensuring the Safety of Journalists

Police sergeant Kaly Diakité from Bamako, Mali provides a unique testimony in an op-ed detailing his experiences as a participant and assistant trainer of two UNESCO workshops on the safety of journalists and freedom of expression. As a former journalist himself, Diakité calls on the need of broader cooperation between media and security forces: "Mutual respect is necessary, as well as a deeper understanding of issues related to defense and safety." UNESCO and its partners organized the first workshop in June 2016, with a follow-up in November. Read Diakité's op-ed here.


Dialogue between key media stakeholders and law enforcement officers facilitated in Madagascar

In December 2016, UNESCO organized two events within the framework of the project Democratic, Credible, and Representative Institutions in Madagascar in the country's capital, Antananarivo. A dialogue session between the security forces and journalists was organized on 14 December 2016, which emphasized the restoration of mutual trust between them and also further cooperation. One day later, a roundtable discussion was held with editors and media owners focused on investigative journalism. The safety of journalists was also highlighted. Read more.


UNESCO denounces hatred, intimidation, harassment and threats against women journalists

On the occasion of a seminar entitled Defying hate and threats against women journalists, held in Stockholm, Sweden on 2 December 2016, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information Frank La Rue denounced hatred, intimidation and harassment against women journalists. "Hateful messages are a breeding ground for intolerance and extremism", said La Rue. Online hate speech has seen a large increase in recent years with more and more women journalists being targeted because of their gender. Read more.


CPJ: Decline from record highs in killings of journalists in 2016

In its annual analysis on journalists' killings, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) concluded that targeted lethal attacks on the media are in decline in 2016 after years of record highs. With a total of 48 cases in 2016 where the motive was confirmed, CPJ provides insight on the decline in its comprehensive report. For the first time since CPJ began monitoring the safety of journalists in 1992, more than half were killed during combat or in crossfire. The dangers the media face and the widespread impunity lead to more and more self-censorship, CPJ added. Read more.


IFJ: 93 media professionals killed in 2016

According to the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), 93 media professionals were killed whilst carrying out their job over the course of 2016. The killings, which include targeted murders, bomb attacks, and crossfire deaths spanned across 23 countries and have decreased compared to IFJ's statistics of 2015 (112). This decrease was welcomed by the international NGO, although it warned against complacency as non-lethal attacks and forms of violence towards journalists continue to rise. Consult IFJ's analysis of the killings per region here. Read more.


IPI underlines the killings of media personnel in conflict zones in its 2016 analysis

In its 2016 overview, the International Press Institute (IPI) stated that nearly half of the deaths of journalists during 2016 happened while they were covering armed conflict. According to IPI, more than 80 journalists worldwide died in the line of their work, of which 36 were killed in conflict zones, mostly in the Arab Region. Compared to previous years, IPI's 2016 total shows a decline in journalists' deaths. Additionally, the international NGO laments the gaps in the availability of credible information and the lack of thorough investigation into the murders of media workers. Read more.


RSF published its 2016 round-up on cases of killed journalists

Published on 16 December 2016, the annual report of Reporters without Borders (RSF) on journalists' killings shows a drop in the amount of cases: 74 in 2016 compared to 101 in 2015. According to the international NGO, the flight of media professionals from dangerous countries, the closing of media outlets and gag orders on journalists have contributed to the lower total of journalists' killings during the past year. These conditions have led to more self-censorship among journalists in an attempt to avoid being murdered, added RSF. Read more.


INSI published the 2016 edition of its 'Killing the messenger'-report

In the 2016 edition of its biannual survey of journalists' killings worldwide Killing the Messenger, the International News Safety Institute (INSI) reports 115 casualties in the media sector over the course of last year. The majority were local journalists and correspondents. According to the NGO, five citizen journalists were killed in total, all in Syria, which highlights the decrease in the number of professional journalists reporting from the frontlines of this conflict. Compiled for INSI by the Cardiff School of Journalism, the report can be consulted in full here. Read more.


Press Emblem Campaign proclaims 2016 as the record year of killed journalists

According to the NGO Press Emblem Campaign (PEC), 2016 was the deadliest year to date with 156 cases of killed journalists. Its annual report, published on 5 January 2017, shows the largest number of killings for 2016 compared to other press freedom NGOs. It also includes accidental deaths of media workers on duty. On average, three journalists were killed per week for covering events and other news, with two out of three killed in armed conflict. PEC calls for the adoption of an international convention for the protection of media. Read more.


Sudan signs Declaration on Media Freedom in the Arab World

On 7 January 2017, Sudan signed the Arab Declaration on Media Freedom at an official ceremony in Khartoum, the country's capital. Hundreds of journalists, representatives from governmental bodies, civil society, and human rights activists were present when Sudan became the fourth country in the Arab region to sign the Declaration. The governments of Palestine, Tunisia, and Jordan supported the initiative during the second half of 2016. The Declaration, whose third General Principle focuses on safety of journalists, can be consulted in full here. Read more.


Launch of online database on online abuse against journalists

On 6 December 2016, the International Press Institute (IPI) launched the online database on</the>line to record harassment, abuse, threats, hacking and other digital means of intimidating independent media into self-censorship. The database serves as a resource for journalists, researchers, and media freedom activists and will collect instances of online abuse among three categories: violent threats, abusive behaviour, and technical interference. Currently, it contains more than 700 verified instances of online harassment targeted towards media professionals. Read more.


IFJ backs global call for action on violence against women journalists

On the 2016 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (25 November), the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) highlighted the violence and discrimination women journalists face when carrying out their job. "Violence against women remains one of the most widespread and tolerated violations of human rights and its perpetrators continue to enjoy impunity", said IFJ's President Philippe Leruth. The NGO called upon its partners and affiliates to support activities and campaigns against gender-based violence towards media. Read more.




UNESCO colloquium on the current challenges of journalism in March 2017

On 23 March 2017, UNESCO will organize a high-level colloquium at its Headquarters in Paris, France on the many challenges journalism is currently facing. Entitled Journalism being challenged: crisis or opportunity?, the colloquium will feature two roundtables on the weakening role of media in global and national news agendas as well as the impact of social media news and the trend of the alienation of audiences away from quality journalism. The roundtables will feature high-level representatives from media outlets, civil society, social media, and academia.