IFJ and API Welcome "Clear and Concrete" EU Support for Journalists Safety

Fabienne Nérac (left) speaks w/ President of the European Council in Brussels - © Photo by Anna-Maria Romanelli The International Federation of Journalists and the Association de la Presse Internationale today welcomed a "clear and concrete" statement by the President of the European Council in recognition of the professional risks facing journalists and media staff across the globe.


Earlier this morning at the opening of the European Council summit in Brussels, Wolfgang Schüssel, Austrian Federal Chancellor and President of the European Council said that "we must never forget the risks taken by journalists who have sacrificed their lives in the defence of objective reporting".


The President talked in particular about the still unresolved case of Brussels-based French cameraman Fred Nérac, who went missing in the southern Iraqi city of Basra on 22 March 2003. "We will take all necessary political steps to find Fred Nérac and put an end to uncertainty for his family and friends," said Schüssel.


With the support of the IFJ and API, Fabienne, the wife of Fred Nérac, delivered a letter to the Presidency calling for the member states of the European Union to use their influence, individually and collectively, to expose the scandal of impunity in the killing of journalists and media staff.


"I was deeply touched by the extremely positive and humane words of Mr. Schüssel," said Fabienne Nérac. "Not only did he understand my personal distress but he understood the real need for concrete action to be taken to better protect the profession as a whole".


“The response by the Presidency is very encouraging showing the real need for shared responsibility between political actors and the media to work together against impunity,” said Michael Stabenow, President of the Association de la Presse Internationale. "We now hope that in a meeting of EU foreign ministers later today, the investigative process will be driven forward".


“We need renewed efforts by the Governments of France, Britain and the United States to provide more information on these questions and, by so doing, to assist Fred Nérac’s wife, Fabienne and her children to understand and to come to terms with the circumstances," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary.


The IFJ and API say that among over 100 colleagues who have sacrificed their lives in the defense of free expression lies the still unresolved case of French cameraman Fred Nérac, who went missing in the southern Iraqi city of Basra on 22 March 2003, when he was apparently killed in an exchange of shots between Iraqi and US soldiers.


ITN reporter Terry Lloyd, 51, died in the attack and Belgian cameraman Daniel Demoustier was wounded. After the incident, both Nérac and Lebanese interpreter Hussein Osman, were listed as missing. Finally, Osman’s remains were identified by DNA testing in June 2004. Fred Nérac’s body has still not been found nor have the exact circumstances surrounding his death been established.


To read the letter delivered to the President of the European Council click here


More information contact: IFJ Communications Director, Robert Shaw (+32 496 205 447) or API President Michael Stabenow (+32 2 235 2224)