Sixth Issue of IFJ Focus on Safety

Welcome to the sixth issue of the IFJ Focus on Safety, a monthly blog which provides highlights, news and in-depth analysis of safety-related events of concerns to journalists.

The blog is part of the IFJ strategy to promote the safety of journalists and to combat the issue of impunity. Please check out the IFJ International Code of Practice for the Safe Conduct of Journalism at the end of this issue.

We value your feedback and would like to hear about your safety experience on the field as well as any stories you would like to share with members of the IFJ family, the global journalists’ community.

The present issue covers the following:

Heavy Media Crackdown as Anti-Third Term Protests Rock Capital

The authorities in Burundi have launched a major clampdown on independent media following protests which erupted in the capital city, Bujumbura, after the announcement on 26 April of the candidacy of outgoing President Pierre Nkurunziza in the coming Presidential election. His opponents took to the street, accusing him of violating the two-term limit in the country’s constitution. Security forces run street battles with the protesters and ordered closure of independent media while others had their broadcasts restricted to the capital. Journalists accused the police and the militias loyal to the ruling party of attacks and threats. Their leaders, including Alexandre Niyungeko, the President of the Union burundaise des journalistes(UBJ), an IFJ affiliate have had to into hiding after receiving a tip that they are on a list of people to be killed.

Read more here

Yemeni Media in Firing Line from Warring Factions after Warning and Closures

Media organisations found themselves targets of the warring faction in Yemen after reports of warning to Yemen Today, a TV affiliated with former President Ali Saleh from the coalition last Sunday with warning that the TV channel and its staff were considered a military target. They had to evacuate the building for security reasons.

This came after the Houthis rebels had closed down media organisations and blocked news websites, in “an unprecedented campaign of collective punishment” against the Yemeni media.

Read more here.

Gunmen of Aden Who Keep Saying Sorry

In an encounter which is reminiscent of times gone by when journalists were treated as guests, rather than as unwelcome witnesses, a BBC’s team recounts their trip to the Yemeni port city of Aden. Faced with armed tribesmen, the simple mention of ‘journalists’ was enough to defuse any hostile attitude, followed by apologies.

Read all about it here.

Pakistan Sets up Tribunals to Investigate Journalists’ Murders in Balochistan

According to a statement from the Home Department of the Balochistan province of Pakistan, two tribunals will be established to investigate the killings of six journalists since 2011. The tribunals will be tasked with naming those responsible and recommending measures to prevent such murders of journalists in the future.

The cases to be investigated are the murders of Abdul Haq Baloch, Javed Ahmed and Munir Shakil from Khuzdar district and Abdul Razzaq, Abudost Rind and Ilyas Nazar from Makran district, who were killed from 2011 to 2013.

Read more here.

Journalists Killed in April

The IFJ recorder 17 killings of journalists during April in nine countries, including Democratic Republic of Congo (1), the Dominican Republic (1), Kenya (1), Libya (5), the Philippines (1), Somalia (1), Ukraine (1) and Yemen (5). For details, please visit IFJ Safety website.

IFJ International Code of Practice for the Safe Conduct of Journalism

The dangers to journalists and media staff working in dangerous situations and conflict zones are the subject of extensive record. The IFJ has recorded the deaths of more than 1000 journalists and media staff over the past ten years.

Many journalists are killed, injured or harassed in war zones, either targeted by one side or another or caught in the crossfire of violence. Others are victims of premeditated assault and intimidation either by criminals, terrorists or by agencies of the state — the police, the military or the security forces — acting secretly and illegally.

Very often there is little that journalists or media organisations can do to avoid casualties. There will, inevitably, be accidents, no matter how much care is taken to provide protection and there is little one can do when those targeting media use ruthless and brutal methods to crush journalistic inquiry.

However, there are steps that journalists and media organisations should take to minimise the risks to staff. In particular, the following are vital considerations in providing protection:

Adequate preparation, training and social protection. It is essential that journalists and media staff be in a state of readiness when difficulties arise. There should be a framework for providing individuals with health care and social protection.

Media professionals must be informed and inform themselves about the political, physical, and social terrain in which they are working. They must not contribute to the uncertainty and insecurity of their conditions through ignorance or reckless behaviour.

Media organisations must guard against risk-taking for competitive advantage, and should promote co-operation among journalists whenever conditions exist which are potentially hazardous.

Governments must remove obstacles to journalism. They must not restrict unnecessarily the freedom of movement of journalists or compromise the right of news media to gather, produce and disseminate information in secure and safe conditions.

People Must Keep Their Hands Off Media. Everyone should respect the physical integrity of journalists and media staff at work. Physical interference with filming or other journalistic work must be prohibited.

With these considerations in mind, the IFJ calls on journalists groups, media organisations and all relevant public authorities to respect the following International Code of Practice for the Safe Conduct of Journalism:

1. Journalists and other media staff shall be properly equipped for all assignments including through the provision of first-aid materials, communication tools, adequate transport facilities and, where necessary, protective clothing;

2. Media organisations and, where appropriate, state authorities shall provide risk awareness training for those journalists and media workers who are likely to be involved in assignments where dangerous conditions prevail or may be reasonably expected;

3. Public authorities shall inform their personnel of the need to respect the rights of journalists and shall instruct them to respect the physical integrity of journalists and media staff while at work;

4. Media organisations shall provide social protection for all staff engaged in journalistic activity outside the normal place of work, including life insurance;

5. Media organisations shall provide, free of charge, medical treatment and health care, including costs of recuperation and convalescence, for journalists and media workers who are the victims of injury or illness as a result of their work outside the normal place of work;

6. Media organisations shall protect freelance or part-time employees. They must receive, on an equal basis, the same social protection and access to training and equipment as that made available to fully employed staff.

For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 17

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 134 countries

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