Fifth Issue of IFJ Focus on Safety

Welcome to the fifth 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:

Mediterranean Unions Demand Action to Protect Journalists’ rights and security

A two-day conference which brought together 60 union leaders, media experts and broadcasters from across the Mediterranean region in Paris from 31-1 April agreed on unequivocal condemnation of all violence against journalists and the growing horrors facing journalists across North Africa and the Middle East targeted by violent extremism.

Read more here.

Concerns Rise over Threats to “Execute” Journalists by Thai Junta Leader

The military leadership which overthrew the government in Thailand has been accused of undermining press freedom after comments by the junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha about journalists who want to report independently.

On 25 March, when asked what would happen to journalists who defy the official line, Gen Prayuth replied that “We’ll probably just execute them.” He argued that journalists should support national reconciliation in the kingdom, saying that “You don’t have to support the government, but you should report the truth.” The IFJ has condemned the threats, saying that the comments illustrated the continued of press freedom in Thailand over the past 12 months.

Read more here.

IFJ Joins Call for End to Human Rights Violations in Central African Republic

On March 24, the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic (CAR), Ms Marie-Thérèse Keita Bocoum, gave an update to the 28th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

She particularly addressed the measures being taken to end impunity for serious violations of human rights since the outbreak of the political crisis in the country. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joined many delegations which called for an end to ongoing acts of violence committed by various armed groups in the country.

Read more here.

Impunity Breakthrough in Pakistan after Arrest of convicted killer of Journalists in Karachi

On 11 March, Pakistani rangers arrest Faisal Mehmood who was convicted for the murder of journalist Wali Kahn Babar in January 2011. Mehmoot and his accomplice Kamran, aka Zeeshan, were convicted in abesntia last year and sentenced to death penalty by Pakistan’s Anti-Terrorism Court in Kandhkot.

Mehmood and five other criminal suspects were arrested in a raid at the Karachi headquarters of secular political party Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) party in the early hours of Monday, March 11

Read more here.

IFJ urges UN Human Rights Council to enforce rights of journalists in Occupied Palestinian Territories

On 23 March, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) called on the UN Human Rights Council to enforce the rights of Palestinian journalists, saying their plight can no longer be ignored. The call was made in Geneva at the Council's session debating the reports of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Both reports describe various violations of human rights, leading the High Commissioner for Human Rights to note that "violations of human rights fuel and shape the conflict." On his part, the Special Rapporteur , Makarim Wibisomo, describe the situation as " unacceptable."

Read more here.

Release of Key Figure in Maguindanao Massacre of Journalists Provokes Outcry

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) are outraged by the release of Sajid Ampatuan, one of the key figures accused of involvement in the Ampatuan Massacre. 58 people, including 32 journalists were brutally murdered in 2009 in the single deadliest attack on journalists in history.

Read more here.

Journalists Killed in March 2015

The IFJ has recorded two killings of journalists in circumstances considered as work-related. They were Gerardo Servián (Brazil) and Edgar Quintero (Colombia). Yemeni senior journalist Abdul Karim al-Khaiwani was also shot dead by gunmen on 18 March.

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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