Newsletter - Issue 28 (September/October 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.


Follow-up on Global Consultation Meeting: Outcome document and Report

The Outcome Document of the Multi-Stakeholder Consultation on Strengthening the Implementation of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity in June 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland, is now finalized. It outlines possible courses of action for specific stakeholders to enhance the impact of the UN Plan. An in-depth Report detailing the key achievements, challenges and lessons learnt of the first five years of the UN Plan is also available.

© UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

UN Secretary-General presents report on the safety of women journalists

In August 2017, UN Secretary-General António Guterres issued a report focusing on the safety of women journalists and the specific risks they face in carrying out their job. It describes the current situation across the globe and concludes with recommendations on implementing safety measures with a gender-sensitive approach. The report was requested in the 2015 UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/70/162, and will be presented at the seventy-second session of the UN General Assembly later this year. Read more.


UNESCO organizes open dialogue between security forces and media on freedom of expression and safety of journalists in Palestine

A three-day open dialogue brought together police and security forces and journalists in Jericho, Palestine from 19 to 21 September to foster understanding of the mutually beneficial roles of security and freedom of expression. The workshop emphasized the common goal of strengthening the rule of law, combatting impunity and establishing safe conditions for all, while also looking at the specific risks faced by female journalists. It was the first time such a training took place in Palestine. Read more.


UNESCO promotes safety of journalists in El Salvador

UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information Frank La Rue called upon on both civil society and the government in El Salvador to work together to improve media safety. La Rue made his comments during the Conference on the Safety of Journalists and the Fight against Impunity, organized by UNESCO in El Salvador on 31 August. Participants also proposed recommen-dations for the development of a strategic plan to enhance journalists' safety. For further information, contact Jamion Knight of the UNESCO San José Office.


UNESCO and El Salvadorian universities to introduce safety of journalists in journalism programmes

UNESCO is developing action plans to integrate themes related to the safety of journalists, including digital safety, in curricula on journalism in El Salvador. This follows the signing of the UNESCO Charter on Journalism Education and Safety of Journalists by Don Bosco University, the National University of El Salvador and the José Simeón Cañas Central American University. The three universities together account for more than 75 percent of journalism students in the country. For further information, contact Jamion Knight of the UNESCO San José Office.


Consultations ongoing for strategic plan on safety of journalists in Honduras

A wide range of stakeholders including Freedom House, ARTICLE 19, the Committee to Protect Journalists and the International Federation of Journalists have been submitting input for the development of a strategic plan on the safety of journalists in Honduras. A framework for this plan was further developed and discussed during the Conference on the Safety of Journalists and the Fight against Impunity (2 October 2017) in Honduras, following a similar initiative in El Salvador. For further information, contact Jamion Knight of the UNESCO San José Office.


Launch of safety of journalists project in Democratic Republic of the Congo

On 13 September 2017, the project titled Support to the promotion of the safety of journalists in the DRC was officially launched in the nation's capital, Kinshasa. The project is organized by the NGO Journaliste en Danger and acts as a platform for journalists and security to forces to engage with one another. During September, several workshops and round tables were organized. The overall goals were to establish a charter and a national alert network. For further information, contact Joseph Potopoto of the UNESCO Kinshasa Office.


UN Human Rights Committee urges Pakistan to protect freedom of expression and fight impunity

In its 2017 review of the civil and political rights situation in Pakistan, the UN Human Rights Committee called upon the Member State to "investigate all cases of harassment, disappearance and killing of human rights defenders" and to "ensure a safe and favourable environment for the work of journalists." Despite progress being made with new measures and legislation, the intergovernmental body regretted their lack of implementation. Pakistan was one of the 4 first-phase countries of the UN Plan. The full Report is available here. Read more.

© CC0

Mobile app created in Kazakhstan reduces reporters' risks

With support from UNESCO, the mobile app Soz Sende (You talk) was developed to aid journalists and media workers in assessing emergency situations and how to tackle them. The app includes an interactive map which displays emergency situations to users and provides instructions on how to act when being detained, amongst other useful information. It was introduced to reporters during a workshop from 19 to 21 September 2017 in Almaty, Kazakhstan. The event will also serve as the start of an information campaign about the mobile app. Read more.


UNESCO seeks support of law faculties to provide legal assistance to journalists

UNESCO and the UN mandated University for Peace are working with universities across Central America to develop a network of universities providing legal support to media workers. Through the proposed Regional Network of Lawyers for the Protection of Journalists, university faculties of law would provide legal aid. The Network would also promote dialogue and research on freedom of expression and safety of journalists as well as facilitate discussions on relevant court cases. For further information, contact Jamion Knight of the UNESCO San José Office.


New insights into the safety of women journalists

Gender was the focus of the third annual UNESCO panel on the safety of journalists at the 2017 conference of the International Association for Media and Communications Research (IAMCR), held in Cartagena, Colombia (16 to 20 July). During the session, five research presentations delved deeper into the trends of violence and harassment aimed at women journalists, both online and offline. This session falls under the framework of UNESCO's Research Agenda on the Safety of Journalists, which encourages academic research into these topics. Read more.

© CC0

Training judges online to safeguard journalists

Since 2014, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have trained thousands of judicial actors in Latin America on the issues of safety of journalists, access to information and freedom of expression. These courses originated from a partnership between UNESCO, the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. In a feature article for the UNESCO Courier, Professor Rosenthal Alves, founding director of the Knight Center, outlines their beginnings and contributions to the regional judiciaries. Read more.

© Saeed Al Batati/UNESCO

Empowering Yemeni women journalists in Mukalla

In response to the lack of representation of female reporters in the Yemeni media landscape, a comprehensive training session took place for women journalists based in Mukalla, Yemen from 13 to 24 August 2017. The capacity building initiative aimed to strengthen local women journalists, especially in English-language newsrooms. The training session covered a multitude of topics, ranging from media ethics to safety and included practical assignments as well. Read more.


Safety training for female journalists in Sudan

In a continuation of capacity building efforts in the region, a safety training session was held in Nyala, Sudan from 15 to 17 August 2017. Aimed at female journalists, the session focused on managing and reducing personal risks when reporting in the field. Twenty-four participants were present, hailing from all corners of the Sudanese region of Darfur. The training session is the fifth to be conducted in the country since the start of 2017 and was supported by the Dutch Embassy of Khartoum, Sudan. Read more.


Launch of new toolkit on freedom of expression, access to information and safety of journalists for judicial schools

Given the integral role of judicial actors in ensuring the Rule of Law and the safety of journalists, UNESCO and its partners have launched a new toolkit to act as a source and multiplier of knowledge for judges, prosecutors, experts and other judicial operators. With a focus on Latin-America, it complements the efforts of the Organization to train judiciaries via Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Divided in 6 modules, the new toolkit provides an in-depth overview of the challenges towards freedom of expression and is available here. (Spanish only) Read more.


CIMA publishes a guide for judges on legal frameworks for freedom of expression

On 27 July 2017, the Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) published International Standards for Freedom of Expression: A Basic Guide for Judicial Workers in Latin America. The new publication complements the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) that are being rolled out in the region and also serves as an introduction to the issues for other workers in the judicial sector. Themes such as violence against journalists, access to information, and the challenges of the Internet are covered. The guide is currently only available in Spanish. Read more.

© Juan Manuel Herrera/OAS

OAS adopts first-ever resolution on the safety of journalists

Last June, the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) adopted a resolution on the protection of journalists and the right to freedom of expression, the first of its kind since the intergovernmental organization's inception in 1948. The assembly unequivocally condemns all "murders, aggressions, and other acts of violence against journalists and media workers" and urges Member States to implement concrete measures reinforcing media safety and combating impunity. The resolution can be consulted in full here. Read more.


CPJ Safety Advisory: media security in Iraq

On 23 August 2017, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) issued a new Safety Advisory for journalists who wish to continue working in Iraq. After the retaking of the city of Mosul by government forces, the physical and the political landscape that reporters have to navigate in has significantly changed, including the risks and dangers involved. The updated Safety Advisory provides guidelines and concrete helpful tips for media professionals. For more information, please consult the Safety Advisory here.


IFJ campaign to end impunity and protect journalists in Mexico

Together with its local partner SNRP, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) launched an international campaign to push for more protective measures and to combat impunity for crimes against journalists in Mexico. According to reports, the Latin American state has become one of the most dangerous countries to practice journalism in 2017. IFJ aims to highlight the issue with local authorities and urges them to make media safety a priority. More information about the campaign, including its visual materials, is available here.


The plight of journalists in Colombia: a special report by IFJ

Impunity and its chilling effect of self-censorship constitute a main obstacle for freedom of expression and the free flow of information in Colombia. According to a new report by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), less than one out of ten cases of attacks and killings of journalists are investigated. The report is based on data received from the Colombian Office of the Attorney General and covers the years from 1986 to 2017. The report can be consulted here. Read more. (in Spanish)


AFEX calls for immediate end to impunity in Africa

At its fifth annual General Meeting on 16 June 2017, the African Freedom of Expression Exchange (AFEX), a network of African freedom of expression groups, expressed concern about the increased attacks against journalists and free expression advocates on the continent. Paired with impunity, these attacks form the gravest threat to freedom of expression and affect the overall development of the African continent. Furthermore, AFEX urged national governments in Africa to safeguard freedom of expression online and offline. Read more.


IPI publishes new report on online harassment of journalists in Austria

Austrian press freedom NGO International Press Institute (IPI) produced a comprehensive analysis of online abuse aimed towards media workers, based on its online project which ended in December 2016. The project was an online reporting tool and collected instances of harassment, technical interference and threats. After 4 months, the results were analysed in order to obtain a rough overview of what journalists encounter daily when working online. The report can be consulted in full here. The on</the>line database is accessible here. Read more.

© Foreign Ministry of Lithuania

OSCE conference on safety of journalists takes place in Vilnius, Lithuania

On 3 July 2017, the multi-stakeholder conference The Safety of Journalists – New Challenges and Responses took place in Vilnius, Lithuania to discuss ways in how to ensure a safe media environment for journalists. Organized by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the Foreign Ministry of Lithuania and the local Journalists' Union, the meeting allowed for an in-depth dialogue between policymakers and other stakeholders on a wide range of issues affecting the free flow of information. Read more.



© Nidal Alwaheidi/UNESCO

International Day to End Impunity 2017

On 2 November, the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists will be commemorated worldwide. Every year, the Day serves as an occasion to address the growing threat of impunity for crimes against journalists, one of the main obstacles against the exercise of freedom of expression. The main commemoration will take place in Colombo, Sri Lanka, next to various national events. It will seek to advance dialogue and strategies to strengthen the regional cooperation on safety of journalists and ending impunity. Read more.

© Cyril Ndegeya/UNESCO

Hybrid training for African judges on freedom of expression, access to information and the safety of journalists

The very first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on freedom of expression, access to information and the safety of journalists for judges in Africa will launch this autumn. Jointly organized by UNESCO and the University of Pretoria, it is complemented by a training session for high-level judges end of October. The hybrid training will address standards on freedom of expression, the right of access to information, internet-related issues and challenges in restricting these freedoms. For further information, contact Mehdi Benchelah of UNESCO Headquarters.

© Free Press Unlimited

Free Press Live 2017

NGO Free Press Unlimited will organize Free Press Live 2017 on 2 November, the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, in The Hague, the Netherlands. In a similar vein to the 2016 edition, the event will raise awareness on the issue of impunity and the daily struggles journalists encounter in bringing information to the public. It will also act as the occasion for the Free Press Awards, honouring those who risk their lives as media professionals. More information on the event is available here.

© Oslo and Akershus University College

Conference on safety of journalists in times of conflict to be organized in Oslo, Norway

The research group Media, War and Conflict of the Oslo and Akershus University College will organize a research conference in concurrence with International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists from 2 to 3 November 2017 in the capital of Norway, Oslo. The main theme will focus on the safety of media professionals who cover violent conflict and war. Practical and theoretical perspectives will be examined, as well as possible strategies and solutions towards this complex issue. Read more.