UN mobilizes to improve safety for journalists and fight impunity
A UN system-wide plan to create a safer working environment for journalists has been given new momentum at a UNESCO-organized meeting that ended in Vienna today.
The meeting, organized by UNESCO, brought together representatives from 15 United Nations bodies, including Frank Larue, the UN Special Rapporteur for the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion, and Christof Heyns, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. More than 40 non-governmental and intergovernmental organizations, independent experts, media groups and professional associations also attended.
They pledged to work together and with relevant national authorities to ensure that the recommendations of the United Nations Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity were applied at country level.
The implementation strategy discussed at the meeting operates at global and national levels, and outlines more than 100 areas of work by different UN agencies and civil society groups to secure the safety of journalists.
• helping governments to develop laws on safeguarding journalists and mechanisms favorable to freedom of expression and information
• awareness-raising so that citizens understand the damage done when a journalist’s rights to freedom of expression is curtailed or terminated
• training courses for journalists in safety and e-safety; the provision of health care and life insurance;
• establishing real time emergency response mechanisms
• strengthening the safety of journalists in conflict zones
• decriminalizing defamation offenses
• encouraging adequate remuneration for both full-time and freelance employees
• enhancing protection for women journalists in response to the increasing incidence of sexual harassment and rape
“More than 100 journalists have been killed so far this year, making 2012 the deadliest year for media since UNESCO began keeping records on the killing of journalists” said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova in a message to the meeting.