“End Impunity and Ensure Protection of Journalists” says IFJ at UNESCO event

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has called on international organisations supporting media freedom to help protect the safety and rights of media workers and bring an end to impunity for violence against journalists across the globe. The IFJ issued its call during the high profile Safety of Journalists workshop it organised at today’s UNESCO World Press Freedom event in Paris. The event highlighted the wide ranging issues concerning the safety of journalists across the globe. Unions leaders from Africa, Europe and the Middle East gave first-hand accounts of the daily experiences journalists face while doing their work. During the event, the IFJ presented its ‘Media Under Attack’ publication which focuses on the media freedom situation in the Balkans and Former Soviet Union from 2011-2013 and highlights the issues affecting the safety rights and lives of journalists in countries across these regions. Read it HERE. “UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day conference is taking place at a most crucial crossroad for journalists, said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. “The season is still open on journalists who continue to be targeted, gunned down, kidnapped, imprisoned and harassed in all corners of the world with tragedies on a scale which has shocked even the most hardened of frontline reporters. “The IFJ calls on all the organisations at this WPFD event in Paris to help end the culture of impunity, not just through declarations, covenants and resolution, encouragement to member states or meaningful partnerships and awareness raising, but through effective criminalisation and independent investigations leading to the punishment of those responsible.” Participants, including journalists’ leaders from Russia, Ukraine, Palestine and Somalia discussed the safety crisis in their countries as well as strategies and programmes that IFJ affiliates have adopted to contribute to the protection of journalists such as training in life-saving skills and multi-level advocacy in combating impunity for violence on journalists. As well as a photo exhibition covering the attacks against journalists during the crisis in Ukraine, there was also a presentation on life saving skills for journalists and a demonstration on cutting edge safety equipment. Nadezda Azhghikina, EFJ vice-president and Secretary of the Russian Federation of Journalists, spoke of the situation for journalists in Russia, citing media restrictions, fear for the return of defamation laws against journalists, controls on the internet and impunity for violence against Russian journalists. “Since 1993, 312 of our colleagues have been killed in Russia,” she said. “International solidarity & support amongst journalists is crucial to achieve true media freedom.” Yuriy Lukanov, of the Independent Media Trade Union of Ukraine, spoke of the dire situation for journalists in Ukraine, stating that journalists have become targets for police and other groups and they have been beaten and abused. “Journalists worked in awful conditions and their rights and freedoms were ignored,” he said. Omar Osman Faruk, President of the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) spoke of the difficult and dangerous situation for journalists in Somalia. “Since 2007, 55 journalists have been killed in the southern part of Somalia,” he said. “Safety training is a crucial tool for protecting the physical and legal safety of journalists who are being intimidated and persecuted.” Abdalnasser Najjar, President of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, said that the Middle Eastern region is one of the most dangerous in the world, with Syria, Iraq, Libya and Palestine among the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists. “Palestinian journalists face serious difficulties such as imprisonment, persecution and even murder,” he said. “Tear gas and sound bombs can cause serious injuries for journalists and their freedom of movement is severely restricted. There is a vital need for safety equipment and safety training to protect the lives of journalists.” For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 17 The IFJ represents more than 600 000 journalists in 134 countries