World Press Freedom Day 2014: IFJ Calls For Greater Protection for Journalists

To mark World Press Freedom Day tomorrow, 3 May, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has today urged meaningful action to increase support and protection for the freedoms and rights of journalists and media workers.

The IFJ has called on all states, civil society organisations and individuals to actively defend freedom of expression and press freedom as fundamental rights.

The Federation has issued its call as it prepares to take part in a major UNESCO conference to mark World Press Freedom Day on 5-6 May in Paris under the theme of ‘Media Freedom for a Better Future.’ The event will focus on the three inter-related themes of media’s importance in development, safety of journalists and the rule of law, and the sustainability and integrity of journalism.

During the conference the IFJ will be hosting a high profile Safety of Journalists event aimed at highlighting press issues concerning the safety of journalists across the world and giving first-hand accounts of the daily experiences journalists face while doing their work.

Participants, including journalists’ leaders from Russia, Ukraine, Iraq, Somalia and South Sudan, will discuss 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.

There also will be a photo exhibition on the crisis in Ukraine and a demonstration on cutting edge safety equipment.

“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.

“Deadly, unpunished violence against journalists leads to self-censorship and the shackling of press freedom – from Somalia to Mexico, journalists today avoid sensitive topics, leave the profession, or flee their homeland to escape violent retribution.

“Journalists and their unions the world over support the UN Plan of Action, but they have lost faith in documents and grand statements. It is dismaying that the instruments are there but they still await effective action as none are binding. The major hindrance for the protection of journalists derives not from the scope of the rights but from implementation deficits.

Boumelha added: “The IFJ will be calling on all the organisations at the Paris WPFD 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.”

Nadezda Azghikhina, EFJ vice-president and Secretary of the Russian Federation of Journalists, who will be attending the event, hopes for united action in the battle for the safety and rights of journalists. “Solidarity is our main weapon, for the only way to combat violence against journalists and censorship, is with the truth,” she said.

"Solidarity will help us overcome new and old challenges and to protect the basic values of our profession.”

The IFJ event will take place from 3.00 pm – 5.00 pm in Room VI at the UNESCO Conference, UNESCO Headquarters, Paris, and focus on the safety of journalists.

For more information about coming along to the side event, contact: [email protected]