Newsletter - Issue 25 (March/April 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.

© UNESCO/Cyril Ndegeya

World Press Freedom Day 2017 highlights the protection of journalists

With six weeks to go, preparations are underway for a multi-faceted focus on journalists’ safety and impunity for crimes committed against them at this year’s global celebration of World Press Freedom Day 2017 in Jakarta, Indonesia (1 to 4 May). Safety training workshops as well as a consultative roundtable on a safety mechanism within the Asia and Pacific region will be held prior to the international conference. During the main programme, experts will examine current challenges facing the media from different angles. Read more.


Challenging impunity: UNESCO invites Member States to report on killings of journalists

The Director-General of UNESCO, Ms Irina Bokova, invited 62 Member States where killings of journalists have taken place to inform UNESCO on the status of the legal investigations regarding each of the cases. This annual inquiry follows up on the request of the Intergovernmental Council of UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication, which urges Member States to “inform the UNESCO Director-General on the status of the judicial inquiries conducted on each of the killings [of journalists] condemned by the Director-General”. Read more.


Join the global celebration of World Press Freedom Day 2017!

Under the global theme 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. Join the global celebration of freedom of expression by registering your event here or participate in the main celebration of the International Day in Jakarta, Indonesia from 1 to 4 May by registering here! Read more.

© UNESCO/Farah Abdi Warsame

Call for Proposals: Photographs on the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity

Professional photographers from all over the world are invited by UNESCO to send a sample of their best photographs illustrating journalists on the job and in particular on the issues of the safety of journalists and impunity for crimes against them. The selected photographs will help to raise awareness on the working conditions of media and to illustrate activities and programmes contributing to the safety of journalists and the fight against impunity. Compensation will be received by the applicants per selected photo. Applications are due by 15 April 2017. Read more.


UNESCO launches third edition of free online course on safety of journalists and freedom of expression for Ibero-American justice systems

The third edition of the free online course International Legal Framework on Freedom of Expression, Access to Information and the Safety of Journalists will take place from 8 May to 18 June 2017. Co-organized by UNESCO and the Office of the Special Rapporteur’s on Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the course is coordinated by University of Texas at Austin’s Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas. Approximately 3,000 judicial operators from Ibero-America have participated in the previous iterations of the course. Read more.


International call to improve Safety of Journalists in Ukraine

The level of attacks against journalists and the urgent need to improve their safety was widely recognized amongst the panellists of the conference Safety of Journalists: an Imperative for Free Media, Freedom of Expression and Public Order, held on 3 February 2017 in Kiev, Ukraine. Media organizations, civil society and governmental institutions examined the current situation of safety of journalists within the country and highlighted the role of security forces and the judiciary in ensuring media safety. Read more.

© IFJ/Muntaser Hamdan

Palestinian universities trained on safety of journalists

At the end of January 2017, UNESCO and its partners the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate organized a three-day training for professors of eight different Palestinian universities on the safety of journalists and freedom of expression. As a result of this training, the IFJ-UNESCO safety curriculum will now be introduced in the Palestinian higher education institutions. Its introduction is a follow-up to a decision by the Ministry of education and Higher education, which publicly endorsed the curriculum last year. Read more.


South Sudan Journalists Trained In Conflict Sensitive Reporting

Fifty-one journalists participated in a training on conflict-sensitive reporting in Juba, South Sudan from 31 January to 2 February 2017. Under the framework of the UNESCO-UNDP project Communicating with Communities, the training equipped local journalists to report in a manner that promotes and builds peace. It focused on several topics, including the importance of gender issues as well as ethical guidelines when covering conflicts. South Sudan was one of the first countries to adopt the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. Read more.

© UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

UN Secretary-General meets NGOs on protection of journalists

UN Secretary-General António Guterres met with representatives from press freedom organizations on 23 February to explore the possibility of appointing a UN Special Representative for the safety of journalists. In 2015, an initiative by the international civil society was started to appoint a Special Representative in view of the worrying numbers of killed journalists every year. Representatives from Reporters withouth Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists and WAN-IFRA were present at the meeting. Read more.


Security forces and journalists from Burkina Faso build professional relationships

At the end of 2016, 40 Burkinabe police officers and members of the gendarmerie were trained on respecting human rights, press freedom and the safety of journalists in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Organized by UNESCO and l'Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, the three day training was the first time law enforcement officers from Burkina Faso had the opportunity to directly exchange experiences with journalists to better work together. Training security forces on these issues has become one of the priorities of UNESCO in this area. Read more.


Impact of UNESCO's Safety of Journalist Conference assessed in follow-up survey

On 5 February 2016, UNESCO organized at its headquarters in Paris, France the international conference News organizations standing up for the safety of media professionals. It was attended by close to 300 media leaders who shared ideas to enhance the safety of journalists and to combat impunity. The International Women's Media Foundation conducted a follow-up survey with participating organizations the impact of their participation in the conference on their continued engagement in these issues. The survey's results can be consulted here.


First center for the protection of women journalists inaugurated in Afghanistan

Together with its local partners, Reporters without Borders (RSF) has opened the first center in Afghanistan focusing on the safety of the country's women journalists. The Center for the Protection of Afghan Women Journalists (CPAWJ) was created to provide a platform for Afghan women journalists to exchange information as well as to seek support in the various challenges they have to face while carrying out their job. CPAWJ will also act as a spokesperson towards media owners and policy makers to ensure the rights of women journalists are protected and promoted. Read more.


IFJ releases in-depth report on journalists' killings of 2016

According to the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), 93 media workers were killed for carrying out their job over the course of 2016. The international press freedom organisation released an in-depth report on these cases, detailing the "story behind the killings". The report also contains an assessment of the state of media safety in each region. The activities of IFJ's Safety Fund are also included, demonstrating its impact worldwide. The programme provides relief to journalists under threat. The report can be consulted here. Read more.


Press and security forces trained on safety of journalists in Somalia

In January 2017, International Media Support (IMS) and their partner FOJO supported the Media Association of Puntland in conducting two trainings for journalists and security forces. Based on UNESCO's Training Manual on Freedom of Expression and Public Order, various subjects were covered, including security procedures in the field and communicating with media. Participants also shared testimonies and agreed on concrete measures to improve the professional relation between law enforcement officers and media workers in the region. Read more.

© CPJ/Scout Tufankjian

CPJ launches Emergencies Response Team as a lifeline to journalists worldwide

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has started the Emergencies Response Team to provide vital up-to-date safety and security information to media staff worldwide as well as rapid response assistance to journalists at risk. According to a special report on the occasion of the launch, the international press freedom organization states that new approaches are necessary in buttressing the safety of journalists on a global level. The Emergencies Response Team will serve as a resource center and a hotline for journalists under threat and at risk. Read more.


CJFE publishes best practices on digital security for journalists in distress

In January 2017, the organisation Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) published an online resource that offers in-depth information and best practices on digital security for media professionals. Digital tools play an important part in the act of newsgathering and come with risks such as a breach of privacy and confidentiality. CJFE's online resource aims to guide media professionals in ensuring their own digital protection, offering insight on certain online vulnerabilities when using different applications as well as on the inner functioning of cyberspace. Explore it further here.


New report shows European journalists silenced through violence and detention in 2016

Mapping for Media Freedom (MMF), an online platform which collects press freedom violations throughout Europe, released its annual analysis of the acts of threats, censorship, and violence towards journalists and media during 2016. A total of 1387 violations were verified on the platform, ranging from online and offline threats and smear campaigns to dangers of reporting on protests and impunity of crimes committed against the media. MMF is a joint programme of press freedom NGOs the Index on Censorship and the European Federation of Journalists. Read more.




March 2017: Colloquium on the current challenges of journalism

On 23 March 2017, UNESCO will organize two round table discussions on the media landscape and the current trends that have put the role of traditional journalism in question. Entitled Journalism under fire: challenges of our times, the high-level colloquium will provide a global platform for stakeholders to analyze the extent of and the driving forces behind the so-called "crisis" in journalism. It is organized within the framework of the La Presse en Liberté week (22 to 29 March 2017) at UNESCO Headquarters, which will also feature a newspaper exhibition. Read more.

© UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

Global multistakeholder consultation on strengthening UN Plan of Action in June 2017

On 29 June 2017, a global gathering will bring together key stakeholders in Geneva, Switzerland to take stock of the outcomes and developments of the first five years of implementation of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. Co-organized by UNESCO and OHCHR, the event will also highlight achievements and propose recommendations for future action. The issues of safety of journalists and impunity gained extra momentum under the framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted in 2015.