World Press Freedom Day workshop to debate safety of journalists and impunity
Raising awareness about safety of journalists and impunity of crimes committed against media is the topic of a conference organized in Jordan's capital Amman on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, on May 3.
Organized by UNESCO along with USAID's media implementer, the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX) and under the patronage of the Higher Media Council (HMC), the conference gathering representatives from local and international press freedom organizations will discuss the legal status of media professionals in conflict zones and the current levels of impunity when it comes to prosecute those responsible for the death of a reporter.
The screening of a documentary about journalism in current Iraq and the testimonies of several reporters from Jordanian, Iraqi and western media will help understand the dangers to which media professionals are exposed while working on the ground.
Despite the existing prohibitions under international humanitarian law against attacks intentionally directed against media workers in armed conflicts, hundreds of journalists and media staff have been systematically targeted in conflict areas over the past decade. For the fourth consecutive year Iraq has been the world's most dangerous country for the media to work in with 64 fatalities registered, according to the press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RWB). Worldwide, 2006 has been the bloodiest year for news media with a total of 167 journalists and support staff dead in 37 countries while doing their job or expressing their opinion.
With regards to impunity, in the last 15 years, about 85 per cent of all journalists' murderers faced neither investigation nor prosecution for their crimes, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
The celebration of the World Press Freedom Day on May 3 is an international event proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993. Deeply concerned at the frequency of deliberated attacks against media workers in armed conflicts, last December the UN Security Council adopted unanimously a resolution condemning attacks against journalists in conflict situations.
IREX is the implementer of the USAID-funded Jordan Media Strengthening Program, a three-year effort launched in summer 2006 to enhance media independence. Established in 1968, IREX is an international nonprofit organization providing leadership and innovative programs to improve the quality of education, strengthen independent media, and foster pluralistic civil society development.
The Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania is IREX' partner in the Jordan Media Strengthening Program. Founded in 1959, the Annenberg School for Communication works to further understanding of the role of communication in public life through research, education and service.