The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today urged collective action to promote media safety during a panel discussion on the safety of journalists organised by the UN Human Rights Council during its 26th Session which opened yesterday, Tuesday 10 June, in Geneva.
The debate was opened by the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights, Navi Pillay, who denounced the lack of accountability for violence against journalists around the world. She called for a legal framework for the protection of journalists and its implementation at national level to ensure that “there is zero tolerance and full accountability for violence against journalists.”
In a statement, delivered by Ernest Sagaga, the IFJ’s Head of Human Rights and Safety, the Federation urged the Council’s Member States to put their collective weight behind the recent initiatives by the UN, including the UN Action Plan on the safety of journalists and the UN Day against impunity for crime targeting journalists adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2013.
In particular, the Federation encouraged Members States to jointly contribute to the safety of journalists through the Human Rights Council‘s procedures such as the Human Rights Committee and the Universal Periodic Review. These mechanisms provide venues where States can scrutinise the respect for and enforcement of human rights by fellow Member States and call for measures to end these violations of their obligations under international human Rights law.
Furthermore, the IFJ highlighted the current media safety crisis in the Central African Republic and urged the Council to give urgent consideration to the situation of journalists who are caught up in the vicious civil war raging in the county.
Other measures for the promoting of journalists’ safety raised at the debate included proposals made by the UN Special Rapporteur for the Freedom of Expression, Frank La Rue who supported the creation of special prosecutors or ombudsmen at the country and regional levels to investigate attacks on journalists.
He also supported the decriminalisation of defamation and ending monopolies of the press to ensue genuine free press.
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The IFJ represents more than 600 000 journalists in 134 countries