The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and a number of its affiliates joined UNESCO in Tunis, Tunisia's capital, on 2-4 November, for a regional conference to mark International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists and the 10th Anniversary of the UN Plan of Action for the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.
The event was organised in partnership with several national, regional and international organizations including the IFJ and the SNJT, the IFJ's affiliate in Tunisia.
The regional conference brought together a wide range of participants including journalists unions, freedom of expression and human rights organisations, media regulators, journalists, lawyers, judges and media experts from 13 countries in the region.
As part of the two-day meeting, the IFJ organized a special session to introduce the draft convention on the safety and independence of journalists , its background and how it can help in improving journalists' safety and fight impunity, strategies to promote it in the Middle East and the Arab World and rally support for its adoption.
The meeting concluded with a safety roadmap for the Arab region as “a guiding framework to further the protection of women and men journalists in the region, safeguard the gains achieved and to anticipate ongoing as well as emerging dangers and risks to journalists.”
Among the action points and recommendations, it calls " for the establishment of an independent international instrument to investigate cases pertaining to crimes committed against journalists.”
IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said: "The meeting was another milestone for UNESCO in the region in enabling collective work among actors who care about the safety of journalists and freedom of expression. The agreed Safety Roadmap reflects their determination to improve media safety and fight impunity for crimes against journalists."
Other key recommendations include:
- Urge national authorities to adopt a policy to combat impunity for crimes committed against journalists and to take the necessary guarantees that they do not occur.
- Increase the availability of targeted capacity building programmes on topics ranging from physical safety, psychological well-being, to digital safety to legal knowledge that are adapted to the specific needs of the country.
- Develop a safe and secure mechanism for journalists, especially women journalists, to report on attacks and harassments.
- Support the review of national laws to include provisions to better protect journalists that are in line with international standards.
- Reinforce self-regulation of the media and the practice of code of ethics in journalism among the journalists including full time and freelancers across different platforms with the view to enhance quality and professionalism as well as a way to strengthen their safety.
- Call on media owners, publishers, media managers and editors-in-chief to respect their obligation of providing facilities, equipment and resources to support journalists facing physical, digital, psychological, or legal risks.
- Recognise the importance of a decent work agenda, as set out in SDG 8, in creating an environment in which journalists are able to operate free from corruption, poverty and fear, and to develop professional solidarity and their social and professional rights.