The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has appealed for international action to improve protection of journalists covering events in Iraq and Syria following the brutal beheading of American journalist Steven Sotloff.
Following the execution of James Foley on August 19, the Jihadi group “The Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS)” yesterday posted video footage online showing Sotloff’s barbaric execution.
“We join international condemnation of this cowardly act and we send our deepest and most heartfelt condolences to the family and colleagues of Steven Sotloff,” said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. “In the face of such extreme and abhorrent actions, the international community must take a stand, they must no longer tolerate such cruelty, and they must take action to protect media workers who are so viciously targeted.
“Given the appalling incidents of recent weeks in Iraq and Syria , we send a direct appeal to journalists to ensure they are trained in risk assessment and other- life saving skills before travelling to the region. Those who are in there currently need to exercise extreme caution for their safety.”
Aged 31, Steven Sotloff was a seasoned reporter and was very familiar with the Middle East having covered conflicts there for many years over the past decade. A native of Miami (USA), he was a highly respected freelance journalist who worked for Time magazine, Foreign Policy and World Affairs.
IFJ’s North American affiliate, The Newspaper Guild – CWA, has urged the global community to condemn the atrocity and to work together to stop an enemy to all humanity.
“Like James Foley two weeks ago, Steven Sotloff was murdered by horrific means shown in a video meant to terrorize and disgust the world: said President Bernie Lunzer. “Because they are willing to risk their lives to tell stories from the darkest corners of the world, journalists have always been especially vulnerable targets for kidnappers.
He added: “Murdering storytellers who are courageously trying to understand and explain conflicts is an attack on civilization itself."
Syria and Iraq remain amongst the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists. This year four journalists have been killed in Syria, while seven have been killed in Iraq. It is believed that around 20 journalists are still being held in the region.
Since the beginning of the year, 79 journalists and media staff across the world have lost their lives in the line of duty.
Journalists working in the field are advised to read the IFJ Safety Guidelines, while the IFJ has also produced its Front Line Journalism Handbook (in Arabic) for journalists reporting in the Middle East and Arab World.
For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 17
The IFJ represents more than 600 000 journalists in 134 countries