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
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
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
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