12 September 2011

United Nations protecting journalists

Journalists are often in danger during battles and are increasingly becoming targets themselves in wars and civil strife. Regrettably, many more risk physical harm during peaceful operations in their home markets. Executions of journalists occur for diverse reasons, including political intrigue and to protect corrupt people in the public and private sectors. This happens in locations as diverse as Russia and Mexico and demonstrates that criminals will take extreme measures to avoid publicity.

How many journalists die?
The Freedom Forum Journalists Memorial currently lists 35 journalist deaths in 2011, including those due to accidents such as a recent airplane crash in Australia. The Committee to Protect Journalists has recorded 54 killed so far in 2011, of which roughly half have the motives confirmed. Details of each case are available. The International News Safety Institute lists 70 deaths in 2011, including both journalists and media staff.
Whatever the exact number, it is very high.

Not just reporters
Journalists often travel with producers, translators, sound recordists, camera operators and other personnel, all of whom share the risks. The victims include not only the individuals killed or maimed, but also their families, friends and even the institutions they work for. Ultimately, the risk is to a free and democratic society in which truth and knowledge prevail and corruption and evil can be unveiled and brought to justice.

What can be done?
UNESCO is calling forUN Plan of Action to guarantee journalists the right to fully exercise their profession and the right to freedom of expression. It has called together governments, NGOs and institutions to debate the issues and support the plan of action.

Further information on these issues is available from the freedom of expression NGO, Article19.