Representatives of international, regional and national organizations, human rights and freedom of expression groups meeting in Doha, condemn demand to shut down AlJazeera.
Media experts, human rights defender and journalists taking part of the International Conference on freedom of expression held in Doha, condemned the demand of Saudi Arabia-led coalition to close down Al Jazeera and other media outlets and expressed their solidarity with journalists and media workers at Al Jazeera and other targeted media.
Jim Boumelha, head of International Federation of Journalists, read the Doha declaration; the final statement and list of recommendations at the closing ceremony of the two-day conference.
“We, representatives of international, regional and national organizations, human rights and freedom of expression groups meeting at the International Conference in Doha, condemn unequivocally the threats by the governments of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the Arab republic of Egypt and the kingdom of Bahrain, demanding the closing down of Al Jazeera and other media outlets including Arabi21, Rassad, Al Araby Al-Jadeed and Middle East Eye.” Said the statement.
Ensuring the safety of journalists
Addressing the safety of journalists, the conference supported the developing of a new binding international instrument dedicated to the safety of journalists, including a specific enforcement mechanism, which would improve the international response to attacks against journalists and the culture of impunity.
The Doha declaration called on governments to acknowledge and accept their obligations to give journalists protection as civilians in situations of conflict, and to strengthen national mechanisms and laws including criminal laws and overhaul justice system to end impunity and to provide judicial and legislative assistance to prevent serious violations of international humanitarian laws including the targeting of journalists.
The conference also called on news organisations to acknowledge their duty of care for all their journalists, in particular news gatherers, staff or freelance and their responsibility to provide hostile environment safety training and equipment whether at time of conflict or not.
“Governments should recognize media freedom”
The Doha Declaration called on governments to recognise the right of media organisations to report information freely and without interference from government and to allow citizens to access information on their own government and institutions in the cause of transparency and accountability.
It also called on governments to limit their ability to curtail media access and set the limits of reporting and access to information and allow transparent and independent adjudication on decisions relating to publication.
The declaration said that journalists should respect codes of conduct that demand fairness, accuracy and the need to oppose the scapegoating of minorities and pandering to prejudice and ignorance.
Human rights defenders, activists, and Journalists from more than 200 organizations around the world participated in the two-day International Conference on Freedom of Expression, co-organized by the National Human RighCommitteette (NHRC), International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and International Press Institute (IPI) and held under the title “Freedom of Expression: Facing up to the Threat”.