» UNESCO developing strategic plan on safety of journalists for El Salvador
04.10.2017 - UNESCO Office in San José

UNESCO developing strategic plan on safety of journalists for El Salvador

The UNESCO regional office for Central America in San Jose, Costa Rica is finalizing a Strategic Plan for the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity in El Salvador following discussions on a draft framework plan during the Conference on the Safety of Journalists and the Fight against Impunity, organized on 31 August 2017 in San Salvador, El Salvador. The event was organized by the regional office with the support of a wide cross-section of stakeholders including the Ministry of Justice and Public Security and the Association of Journalists of El Salvador (APES).

The document which covers the period 2018 to 2022 is a collective response to challenges such as intimidation, harassment, physical and digital threats, and assassinations that journalists including women face. The combination of these challenges, including the murders of two journalists between 2014 and 2016 which were condemned by the UNESCO Secretary General, creates an atmosphere of fear, promotes self-censorship and lowers the level of press freedom and freedom of expression.

The inter-sectoral plan which will be completed by December 2017 is guided by the United Nations Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity and is based on strategic cooperation between all stakeholders including journalists, the government, universities and NGOs at the national, regional and international levels, to promote the safety of journalists. The plan outlines all the areas in which stakeholders will work together, outlines mechanisms to facilitate coordination and the development of policies and initiatives, and the reduction of duplication of efforts and initiatives by various partners. The plan which places an emphasis on gender equality covers several strategic areas including the following:

Raising awareness on the threats facing journalists

  1. Capacity building for journalists, security forces, journalism students, journalism professors and other key stakeholders
  2. Proving legal support to journalists
  3. Developing protection mechanisms and programmes

The finalization of the strategic plan will be followed by the development of an action plan which will elaborate the prospective activities and projects to be implemented by various partners from 2018. Discussions on the development of the action plan began during the UNESCO-organized conference in El Salvador which attracted the participation of over 100 representatives from universities, associations of communicators and journalists, think thanks, the private sector, the diplomatic corps, UN agencies and NGOs promoting human rights.

During that event, the Assistant Director-General of UNESCO for Communication and Information Frank La Rue called upon participants to work together to protect journalists. He noted that “If freedom of expression is guaranteed, if having diversity and pluralism for the audience is guaranteed, if the safety of the communicators is guaranteed, then the flow of information is going to be guaranteed, and public access to information will be guaranteed and therefore. Not only will freedom of expression be guaranteed as a fundamental right but the exercise of democracy will be guaranteed which is fundamental for any country.”

The Vice Minister of Security Raul Lopez who also delivered opening remarks lauded UNESCO for the initiative and reiterated his government’s commitment to protecting journalists and promoting freedom of expression.

"We want to ensure the safety and physical of all journalists’ security, because... [they] ensure freedom of the press, freedom of expression and ensure democracy in our country,”

UNESCO's role in the development of both the national action and strategic plans, and the organization of the Conference reflects its coordinating role in the implementation of the UN Plan of Action. The UN Plan of Action which is a strategic framework recognizes that the safety of journalists and the fight against impunity requires continuous collaboration and coordination at all levels of society.

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