07.09.2011 - UNESCOPRESS

United Nations rallies to end impunity for attacks against journalists

© APOLLO Images/Osama Silwadi, G.M. & Founder - Dangerous work of Palestinian media during the Gaza conflict.

Over the past ten years more than 500 journalists and media workers have been assassinated and an even greater number have been injured whilst exercising their professional duties. The vast majority of these attacks did not concern international war correspondents but journalists working in their home countries, often in times of peace, and covering local stories. The instigators of these crimes, for the most part, remain unpunished.

Attacks on journalists include abductions, hostage-taking, intimidation, harassment, arrest and illegal detention. Increasingly, sexual harassment is used to silence women journalists.

Faced with this situation, UNESCO, within the framework of its International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) is organizing a United Nations inter-agency meeting on 13 September (9 a.m. to 6.30 p.m., Room X) to look for ways of improving security for journalists and combatting impunity for those responsible for criminal acts against them. The goal is to draw up a UN Plan of Action aimed at guaranteeing journalists the right to fully exercise their profession and the right to freedom of expression. International organizations, professional associations and non-governmental organizations will also participate in the meeting.

Raghu Menon, Chairperson of the IPDC, will preside over the meeting and open the first session. UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova will make the introductory remarks for this session along with Kiyo Akasaka, UN Under-Secretary General for Communication and Information. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, will  address the meeting via a video message.

Discussions will focus on: the status of the safety of journalist worldwide (Moderated by Rodney Pinder, Director of the International News Safety Institute, INSI); strengths and weaknesses of international legal instruments (moderated by Agnes Callamard, Executive Director of Article 19); and challenges to the United Nations and its agencies: proposals for a plan of action (Moderated by Janis Karklins, Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information). Discussions will be open to the media and webcast (mms://stream.unesco.org/live/room_10_floor.wmv).

Other participants include Frank la Rue, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression ; Dunja Mijatovic, Representative on Freedom of the Media for at the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) ; Catalina Botero, Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression for the Organization of American States (OAS) and Faith Pansy Tlakula, Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to information in Africa for the African Union Commission.

On 14 September, the representatives of UN agencies and programmes will meet to develop the joint plan of action based on the debates of the previous day.

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         Journalist who wish to cover the meeting require accreditation.

                      Contact: Djibril Kebe, Media Relations Section,

                        Tel: +33 (0)1 4568 1741; d.kebe(at)unesco.org




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