Newsletter – Issue 29 (November/December 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.


International Day to End Impunity 2017

On 2 November 2017, the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists was commemorated worldwide. Thirty national events took place in 27 countries, complemented by a large-scale awareness campaign #My fight against impunity. The campaign featured testimonies of inspiring journalists, human rights activists and relatives of killed journalists combating impunity for crimes against journalists. The main event is set to take place in Colombo, Sri Lanka on 4 December 2017. Read more.

© UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

UN Secretary-General Guterres Calls to End Impunity

On the occassion of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists 2017, UN Secretary-General António Guterres issued a statement calling for an end to the widespread culture of perpetrators walking free whose crimes silence journalists and the free flow of information. He followed up his call for justice with the initiatives the UN is taking to counter this issue: a network of focal points throughout the entire organizations will propose specific steps to strengthen the protection of media. His full statement can be consulted here.


Safety of Women Journalists Centre Stage at UN Headquarters on IDEI 2017

The roundtable Ending impunity for crimes against journalists: strengthening implementation and the case of women journalists was organized at the UN Headquarters by the UNESCO New York Office and the Permanent Mission of Greece to the UN to commemorate the 2017 International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists (IDEI) on 2 November. Close to 100 participants from various Member States' delegations and press freedom organizations were present to highlight the plight of media worldwide. The video of the panel is available here.


UNESCO General Conference Adopts Resolution to Strengthen UNESCO’s Leadership in Implementation of UN Plan of Action on Safety of Journalists

The 195 Member States of UNESCO’s General Conference adopted on 11 November 2017 a Resolution to strengthen UNESCO’s leadership in the implementation of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. The first Resolution on this issue since 2011, it “strongly condemns” all attacks against media and recognizes the need to improve safety conditions. It also encourages Member States to set up national safety mechanisms to prevent, protect against and prosecute attacks as well as to carry out national monitoring of the safety of journalists. Read more.


UN Committee Passes Draft Resolution for General Assembly to Consider

On 20 November 2017, the third committee of the 72nd United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) put forward a new draft Resolution on the safety of journalists. It was co-sponsored by 55 countries and calls upon Member States to increase their efforts in combating impunity and ensuring a safer media environment. If adopted by the UNGA in December 2017, it will be the fourth Resolution of its kind, with the first being adopted in 2013 which proclaimed 2 November as International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists. Consult the draft Resolution here.


New Report on World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development Presented

World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development: Global Report 2017/2018, the latest edition of UNESCO's flagship publication series, was presented on 6 November 2017 at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France. The study offers a critical analysis of new trends in media freedom, pluralism, independence and the safety of journalists and features a special focus on gender equality in the media. Trends in media safety are highlighted here and an executive summary can be consulted here. Read more.


Increase in the Responses of Member States on Cases of Killed Journalists

In 2017, as part of its efforts to monitor the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity, UNESCO invited the 62 Member States in which killings of journalists have taken place to provide information on the status of judicial investigations. Of these, 46 responded (74%), with 41 providing specific information into the killings of media workers within their borders. In previous years, the reponse rates were 68% (2016), 47% (2015), and 27% (2014). This overall trend shows an increased recognition of UNESCO’s reporting mechanism and the need to address impunity for crimes against journalists. Read more.


Eastern Africa Conference on National Mechanisms for Safety of Journalists

From 13 to 14 November 2017, more than 120 journalists, government delegates, NGOs, human rights defenders and media development partners met in Nairobi, Kenya to discuss the creation and strengthening of national mechanisms for the safety of journalists. Emphasizing the 3 P-approach of Prevention, Protection and Prosecution, participants adopted the Nairobi Declaration on National Mechanisms for Safety of Journalists. This first regional conference was organized by UNESCO, the Media Council of Kenya and the Kenya Union of Journalists. Read more.


Promoting the Safety of Journalists and the Campaign against Impunity in Africa

UNESCO and the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) organized a conference on safety of journalists and ending impunity for crimes against journalists in Africa on 15 November 2017 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Attended by African journalists’ union leaders, FAJ delegates and different UN representatives, the conference deliberated on the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity, proposed a roadmap to mitigate the threats and called upon relevant stakeholders to work together. Read more.


African Judges Hone Their Expertise in Freedom of Expression

Twenty African judges debated and engaged on freedom of expression, safety of journalists and media pluralism during a three-day seminar in Pretoria, Africa from 23 to 25 October. Organized by UNESCO, the seminar highlighted the role of the judiciary in protecting fundamental human rights and their importance towards sustainable development. It is one of the first of such initiatives to take place in Africa and will be followed up by a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) focused on the continent. Read more.


Call for enrollments: MOOC on freedom of expression for African judges

Judges, judicial officers, prosecutors, parliamentarians and lawyers are invited to enroll in the first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on freedom of expression, access to information and the safety for journalists with a focus on Africa. Close to 400 participants already enrolled since the free, online course opened on 13 November 2017. Offered by the Centre for Human Rights of the University of Pretoria and UNESCO, it highlights the existing international and regional frameworks promoting freedom of expression and media safety. Read more.


UNESCO Completes Phase II of Open Dialogue between Palestinian Security Forces and Journalists on Freedom of Expression

Two months after the initial open dialogue between Palestinian media and security forces on freedom of expression and safety of journalists, a follow-up dialogue was held from 13 to 15 November 2017 in Ramallah, Palestine. Overall, almost 50 law enforcement officers participated in the two sessions, contributing to building greater trust between them and the media and to enhanced awareness about the role and function of journalists in democratic societies. Similar training initiatives have taken place in more than ten countries across the globe. Read more.


UNESCO Launches New Regional Project to Counter Impunity in Latin-America

During the 2017 edition of the Latin-American Conference on Investigative Journalism (COLPIN) in Buenos Aires, Argentina, UNESCO launched a new project to investigate impunity for cases of killed journalists. Entitled Who investigates crimes against investigators?, the project encourages the monitoring and reporting of crimes against journalists and impunity. It also aims to increase solidarity between media workers of the region. The project is supported by UNESCO's International Programme for the Development of Communication. Read more.

© CC0

Application Period Now Open for UNESCO's 4th Edition of the Online Course on Freedom of Expression for Ibero-American Judiciaries

For the 2017 International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, UNESCO launched its fourth edition of the online course that has already seen the participation of approximately five thousand judicial operators in Latin America. The free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) International Legal Framework of Freedom of Expression, Access to Public Information and Protection of Journalists will start on 2 April and continue until 13 May 2018. The application period is now open and you will need to register here in order to participate. Read more.


Best Practices on the Safety of Journalists Published in Global Study

International Media Support (IMS) published a new comprehensive study entitled Defending Journalism on 30 October 2017. It provides an in-depth analysis of the efforts to protect journalists of 7 countries, where conflict and instability encumber the media environment to engage in quality reporting. IMS aimed to map the initiatives that work and do not work, and dedicated a large part of the analysis to so-called "national safety mechanisms". The study can be consulted in full here and will be officially launched on 16 November 2017. Read more.

© Iraqi Journalists' Syndicate/IFJ

New Initiatives to Counter Media Threats in Iraq

The Iraq National Committee On Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity will set up a new Follow-up Committee to better monitor and investigate the threats and attacks against journalists operating in the Middle-Eastern country. This was the outcome of a meeting between the National Committee and the International Federation of Journalists, held on 15 October 2017 in Baghdad. One day earlier, a large meeting was held with media managers and editors where new courses of action were laid out to enhance the security of the Iraqi media. Read more.


Consultative Meeting with Stakeholders Held in Pakistan

On 27 September 2017, UNESCO and the Dutch NGO Free Press Unlimited co-chaired a multistakeholder network meeting in Islamabad, Pakistan to discuss ways into tackling impunity and to bolster journalists' safety. During the deliberations, the country's Right to Information laws were highlighted as a valuable tool to support consistent monitoring and reporting on SDG 16 target 10 indicators. The meeting was attended by a variety of local and international partners.


IDEI Conference in Tunisia on National Safety Mechanisms

On 16 November 2016, UNESCO, UNOHCHR, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the Tunisian National Journalists' Syndicate organized the conference Effective Protection Mechanisms for Journalists and the Role of Professional Organizations. The full-day event featured 3 thematic panels and brought together multiple stakeholders to discuss media safety and impunity. The three P-approach was highlighted as the main course of action to ensure a safe media environment: prevent, protect and prosecute. Read more. (in French)


India Observes Its First International Day to End Impunity

UNESCO New Delhi, the UNESCO Media Freedom Committee and a wide range of media stakeholders came together in New Delhi on 2 November 2017 to observe the first International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists in India. The event featured two panels: the first one offered a series of first-hand accounts of violence journalists encountered in carrying out their job. One of the speakers was Kavitha Lankesh, sister of journalist Gauri Lankesh, killed in September 2017. The second panel set out recommendations to promote media safety. Read more.


Forbidden Stories: RSF and Freedom Voices Network keep journalistic investigations going

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and Freedom Voices Network launched the Forbidden Stories project last month. It aims to "secure the data and information of threatened journalists and, when journalists are arrested or killed, to continue and publish their investigative reporting." Media workers are able to store their sensitive research and data via encrypted communication, allowing their work to not be lost when they are threatened or fatally attacked. The first published stories of the project focus on the work of 3 Mexican journalists, killed in 2017. Read more.


2017 Impunity Index: CPJ Spotlights the Most Dangerous Spots for Media

Entitled Getting Away with Murder, the 2017 edition of the annual Impunity Index by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) was published on 31 October 2017. For the tenth year in a row, the Index ranks countries where killings of journalists have taken place without punishment for the perpetrators. This year's Index features twelve countries where at least five cases of killed journalists have remained unresolved since 2007. According to CPJ, conflict and violent extremism account for a third of the murders. Read more.


IFEX Highlights Emblematic Cases of Impunity for IDEI 2017

IFEX, the global network of freedom of expression organizations, highlights six emblematic cases where journalists were killed or assaulted without punishment in its 2017 campaign against impunity. Stories in the fight against impunity aims to raise awareness on the widespread nature of this issue by focusing on cases across the globe through an interactive storymap. It serves as the nucleus of IFEX's 2017 'No Impunity'-campaign, held annually to observe the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists. Read more.


IPI Laments the High Number of Journalists' Killings and Calls on Governments to Do More

On the International Day to End Impunity 2017, the International Press Institute (IPI) highlighted the high toll journalists have paid in 2017 and in previous years. According to IPI's statistics, 71 journalists have been killed this year alone as a consequence of their work. The organization called "on all governments to live up to their international commitments and ensure that no one who attacks – much less kills – a journalist is able to get away with it.” Since 1997, IPI has been keeping track of cases of killed journalists and related impunity. Read more.


IFJ Launches Its 21-Day Campaign on Impunity

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) rolled out its three-week long campaign against impunity for crimes against journalists, which will run from 2 November to 23 November 2017. During these 21 days, the press freedom NGO aims to hold governments accountable who have been unable to bring perpetrators to justice. This year the campaign will highlight seven countries, with a special focus on Mexico. The end date of the campaign commemorates the Manguindanao massacre of 2009, where 32 journalists lost their lives. Read more.


UN Experts Call on Politicians to Stop Demonizing Media

Ahead of the commemoration of the 2017 International Day to End Impunity, UN Special Rapporteurs Agnès Callamard and David Kaye have urged politicians worldwide to cease targeting the media with hate speech. Such public rhetoric leads the way to physical and lethal attacks on those who bring information to the public, their public statement reads. A commitment from all levels of society, especially from State actors, is paramount to ensure a safe and enabling media environment and to stop the "downward spiral" of attacks on media. Read more.


Safety Trainings for Women Journalists in Sudan

Two safety training sessions took place in Sudan, specifically aimed at women reporters. From 27 to 29 September 2017, 24 women journalists participated in a training session in the city of Kassala (north-east Sudan) to manage their personal security risks. A similar training session was held from 23 to 25 October 2017 in El-Obeid (central Sudan), where an additional 24 women journalists participated. Both training sessions are part of a series, and account for the sixth and seventh to take place in the country in 2017.

© Guillermo Cano Foundation

UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize 2018 seeks nominations

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. The Prize is considered as one of the leading recognitions in the field of freedom of expression and is awarded each year at World Press Freedom Day (3 May). The nomination form can be downloaded here. Deadline is 15 February 2018. Read more.

© Helsingin Sanomat Foundation

Helsingin Sanomat Foundation continues sponsoring UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize

UNESCO and the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation have renewed their cooperation for the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize until 2020. The foundation will support the prize with an annual contribution of 15,000 EUR for the next three years. This is a continuation of the organization's support of the Prize since 2012. Over the course of the last five years, four out of five laureates of the Prize were imprisoned at the time of receiving the award, of which three were later released. Read more.

© John Lo

UNESCO Advocates for Encryption and Human Rights at 39th ICDPPC

“Strong encryption is needed to protect privacy and freedom expression in the digital age”, concluded panellists at the UNESCO session on privacy and encryption during the 39th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners (ICDPPC), held in Hong Kong, China, on 29 September 2017. During the session, UNESCO also presented its recent publication Human Rights and Encryption, which provides recommendations to support privacy and to protect journalists, media actors, vulnerable users and minorities online. Read more.


IFEX Publishes Two Guides on the UN Plan of Action and the UNESCO Director-General's Report

In order to make them more accessible to a wider audience, IFEX released online guides on the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity and the biennial UNESCO Director-General's Report on the Safety of Journalists and the Danger of Impunity. In the form of 6 questions, they provide an instant overview of UNESCO's main initiatives in strengthening the safety of journalists and combating impunity. The guide on the UN Plan of Action is available here; the guide on the UNESCO Director-General's Report can be viewed here.


ARTICLE 19 Organizes Side Event to UN General Assembly on Safety of Journalists and Impunity

On 24 October 2017, freedom of expression organization ARTICLE 19 organized a parallel event to the UN General Assembly in New York, USA. The round table highlighted and discussed the findings of the UN Secretary-General's Report on the Safety of Women Journalists, published earlier this year. Several other rights groups participated in the panel, as well as David Kaye, UN Special Rapporteur on the Freedom of Expression, and heads of media houses. The concept note of the event can be found here.


Infosec Bytes Teaches Journalists to Work Safely Online

The Centre for Investigative Journalism has released a series of educational videos that explains the risks of working online and provides tools on how to mitigate these dangers. The series serves as a public resource tool aimed primarily at media workers, but also caters to journalistic sources, civil society organizations, and others who wish to know more about how to protect themselves from online threats. Launched in April 2017, the series now features over 30 videos ranging from data encryption to browsing the internet anonymously. Read more.

© Mehmet Koksal/EFJ

16-Point Safety Protocol for Journalists in Conflict Zones Published

A 16-point Safety Protocol was drafted and issued by the participants of a workshop in Diyarbakir, Turkey from 3 to 4 October 2017. Organized by the Journalists' Union of Turkey and both the European and International Federation of Journalists, the training session tackled safety issues and the post-trauma stress of reporters working in conflict zones. Thirty local journalists participated and published a Safety Protocol with practical advice for reporters out in the field. The full document can be consulted here, as well as videos of the workshop.


UN HRC Resolution on Safety of Journalists Transformed into Advocacy Tool by ARTICLE 19

In September 2016, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) adopted Resolution 33/2 on the safety of journalists, which put forward the 3 P-approach in ensuring a safe media environment: Prevent, Protect, and Prosecute. More than a year later, the situation remains dire for journalists worldwide. ARTICLE 19 published a comprehensive guide about the Resolution, to be used as an advocacy tool for all stakeholders to hold Member States accountable to their commitments. It aims to break down the barrier between adoption and implementation. Read more.


Italy Takes First Step in Countering Attacks against Journalists

In November 2017, the Italian Ministry of the Interior announced the creation of a Coordination Centre for the Protection of Press Freedom, a first concrete step in the West-European country towards ending impunity for attacks against journalists. The Centre will allow for the monitoring of attacks on press freedom as well as provide an immediate means of recourse for affected journalists or media workers. This kind of initiative is one of the first of its kind within the Western European region. Read more.




IDEI 2017: Regional Seminar in Colombo, Sri Lanka

On 4 December 2017, the seminar Reinforcing regional cooperation to promote freedom of expression and the rule of law in Asia through ending impunity for crimes against journalists will be held in Colombo, Sri Lanka. It serves as the main event for the commemoration of IDEI 2017 and is organized by UNESCO and the Sri Lankan Ministry of Finance and Mass Media. With a focus on the roles of the judiciary and national human rights commissions, various stakeholders will engage with one another to bolster cooperation and capacities. Read more.


Workshop on National Initiatives on the Safety of Journalists at UNESCO Headquarters

On the occasion of Human Rights Day on 12 December 2017, the Group of Friends for the Safety of Journalists will organize an interactive workshop at UNESCO Headquarters on national initiatives which protect journalists. The workshop will highlight efforts by Member States that have been successful in mitigating attacks and violence towards the fourth estate. The Group of Friends was established last year and consists of Member States who are uniting their efforts in strengthening media safety. More information on the workshop will be made available soon.


Official Launch of the Model Course on Safety of Journalists in Palestine in December

Twenty months of consecutive practical training sessions on the Model Course on the Safety of Journalists have been carried out by the UNESCO Ramallah Office and the Palestinian Journalists' Syndicate in the different universities which initially included the course in their journalism curricula. In December 2017, the Model Course will be officially launched and become a vital part of the journalism programmes of the participating universities. This launch will be co-organized with the Palestinian Ministry of Education and Higher Education.