The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and affiliates from the Mediterranean called for a new regional campaign to promote a strong professional journalists culture across the region that reinforces the independence of journalists and their basic rights, improves safety and promotes the highest professional standards of journalism.
60 union leaders, media experts and broadcasters from across the Mediterranean region came together primarily to mark the murders of the Charlie Hebdo journalists and the deaths of tens of journalists that take place every year across the region with impunity.
A short ceremony was held on Tuesday evening as the IFJ leaders and delegates from member unions in the Mediterranean region laid flowers outside the old offices of Charlie Hebdo where 10 journalists were gunned down in January.
“This is a very moving moment for all of us to be able to come together with our brothers and sisters from across the Mediterranean to pay our respects to the victims of this most brutal of killings,” said Jim Boumelha, IFJ President.
The meeting addressed the long term challenges facing media reporting the fall-out of the violence and the pressure on minority communities on both shores of the Mediterranean. It considered the dangers of hate speech and the misuse of freedom of expression by far right racist groups to alienate marginalised groups. It warned against governments seeking to use the threat of violence to restrict and control journalism to protect the ‘national interest’.
Participants further considered the structural challenges facing media as employers slash editorial budgets and employment conditions and how government austerity programmes have damaged public service journalism at a time when the public needs quality information the most.
“After two days of intense discussions we were delighted to be able to build a strong consensus around the principles that unite us as journalists and trade unionists,” said Olivier Da Lage, SNJ. “We have an ambitious but essential programme of work to look forward to.”
Special thanks was given to the European Commission’s MedMedia team who helped organise and finance the conference, the Marie of the 11th District who provided the venue and all participants who contributed to the rich debate.
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The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 134 countries
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