Geneva (PEC) – The Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) welcomes the resolution which was adopted by consensus at the third committee at the United Nations in New York which aims at enhancing the protection and the safety of journalists.
“This new resolution is very positive. It demonstrates the political will of the UN Member States to reinforce the protection of media workers and to fight impunity”, said PEC Secretary General Blaise Lempen.
“The awareness of the problem has increased significantly. However the reality on the ground has not improved. Since January this year, 118 journalists were killed in 26 countries. Last year, there were 129 who were targeted in connection with their reporting. More needs to be done to monitor whether governments are complying with their obligations”, he added.
The PEC, said Lempen, calls on the UN to create a new international mechanism to follow-up on the enquiries and bring those responsible to justice. Today is the 5th anniversary of the Ampatuan massacre in the Philippines (32 journalists killed) and still no one has been convicted, he stressed.
This call to the UN, said PEC president Hedayat Abdel Nabi would translate the resolution on paper to action on the ground and would at the same time include the protection angle as an important ingredient in its formulation.
Abdel Nabi added that this welcome move by the international community could well be coupled with a move to discuss an international instrument to protect journalist, the world is on board, it takes one country or group of countries to trigger the process.
The new resolution reaffirms the concept of journalism as an activity that is evolving and now includes not only professional journalists but also “private individuals and a range of organizations that seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, online as well as offline.”
It reaffirms the obligation to protect journalists in both wartime and peacetime and stresses the need to “create and maintain, in law and in practice, a safe and enabling environment for journalists” and to conduct “impartial, speedy, thorough, independent and effective investigations” into attacks against journalists and other news providers.
The resolution lists all the human rights violations and abuses that constitute a threat to the safety of journalists, not only killing, torture and enforced disappearance but also “arbitrary arrest and arbitrary detention, expulsion, intimidation, harassment, threats and other forms of violence.”
Reinforcing governments’ obligations to combat impunity, it mentions the June 2014 UN Human Rights Council panel on the safety of journalists, it points out that attacks against journalists are on the rise and it describes the fight against impunity as the “biggest challenge” for journalists’ safety.
Paragraph 8 urges governments to cooperate with UNESCO on a “voluntary basis” and to share information about investigations into attacks against journalists, while paragraph 7 refers to the good practices identified in the Human Rights Council resolution of 25 September 2014.
Like the Human Rights Council one, today’s resolution stresses “the particular vulnerability of journalists to becoming targets of unlawful or arbitrary surveillance or interception of communications in violation of their rights to privacy and to freedom of expression.”
It also calls for the release of all journalists who are being held hostage or who are the victims of enforced disappearance and says that not only journalists but also their families should receive compensation for acts of violence.
The resolution which was proposed by France, Greece, Austria, Argentina, Costa Rica and Tunisia and co-sponsored by more than 80 countries, is due to be definitively approved by the General Assembly next month.