IFJ Joins Call for Action on New UN Report on Media Protection

The United Nations Human Rights Council

today debated a new report on the importance of the protection of journalists,

the prevention of attacks and the fight against impunity for attacks against

journalists.

The Report prepared by the Office of the United

Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights argues that political commitment,

backed by clear and effective legislative and practical safeguards to prevent

attacks and threats to journalists, are the key elements of an effective

approach to the protection of journalists.

It features a contribution from the IFJ focusing on the Federation's work on

the safety of journalists such as safety training, emergency assistance from

the International Safety Fund and monitoring the violations of media rights.

The new report contains a wide range of

proposals which states can implement to achieve a secure environment for safe

journalism.

They include the suggestion that violence

against journalists should be considered an aggravating circumstance, leading

to harsher sentences against journalists' attackers. This idea is supported by

some academics for its deterrence potential. The report expands on this by

suggesting that investigations into attack on media should look into any link

between the suspected attack and the journalist's professional activity.

The report further advocates the creation of special units within the national

legal systems to investigate attacks on journalists, an early warning system to

facilitate timely intervention, and a rapid response mechanism to provide

journalists with access to the authorities and protective measures.

During the debate on the report, remarks by members

of the Human Rights Council were overwhelmingly positive and welcomed the

measures proposed in the report.

However, in a strongly worded statement on

behalf of over 70 countries, Austria warned that concrete steps are needed to

translate the strong support to the report in reality. The statement

specifically called for governments to take a public position at the highest level

about the important role of journalists. It also suggested organising a

separate event for a detailed debate on the reports' recommendations.

The IFJ joined the call for an

uncompromising implementation of the conclusions and recommendations made in the

report. In a statement on the report, the Federation argues that the

establishment of special investigative units dedicated to tackle the violence

targeting media could contribute to greater accountability and offer genuine

deterrence.

However, the Federation cautioned against

any failure to act, saying that the current safety media crisis required

drastic measures in order to address the pervasive culture of impunity.

It further called on the Office of the

High Commissioner for Human Rights to set up a mechanism to monitor and report

to extent to which governments abide by international laws and standards concerning

the safety of journalists and keep the situation under review.

Finally, the IFJ appealed on governments and the United Nations High Commission

for Refugees to assist journalists whose lives are at risk by considering

issuing them with emergency visas and laisser-passer  to safety.

Read the full OHCHR's report here

For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 17
The IFJ represents more than 600.000 journalists in 134

countries