Showing posts with label protection. Show all posts
Showing posts with label protection. Show all posts

Saturday, June 25, 2011

U.N. secretary-general commits to defending press freedom


U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

25 Jun 2011 10:06 Africa/Lagos



U.N. secretary-general commits to defending press freedom

PARIS, June 24, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Press freedom, particularly free expression online, will be a priority for newly re-elected U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the U.N. chief pledged today in a meeting with the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders.

The heads of both organizations said they were encouraged by statements made by the secretary-general in support of press freedom during the upheaval in the Middle East and North Africa.

"The uprisings in the Middle East have demonstrated that people all over the world are hungry for information and cherish their ability to communicate with one another," said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. "This is a basic human aspiration grounded in international law."

The organizations asked Ban, who at the beginning of his first term pledged to support journalists working in dangerous conditions, to use his new mandate to expand support for press freedom everywhere. Ban assured the delegation that addressing individual cases of press violations is a priority.

"The Internet, as a space for the free flow of information and ideas, is inextricably linked to free speech and the development of our societies," said Simon. "U.N. member states have a responsibility to their citizens to keep it free." In 2010, more than half of imprisoned journalists were working online, according to CPJ statistics. The delegation asked the secretary-general to build on his message issued on World Press Freedom Day in May by addressing cyber-attacks, censorship laws, and restriction of the Internet through regulation or the use of state power.

"We urged the secretary-general to strongly defend the journalists and bloggers currently detained or harassed in countries such as Yemen, Bahrain, Syria, and Libya," said Reporters Without Borders Secretary-General Jean-Francois Julliard. "We asked him to do whatever he can to stop the repression and protect all those who want to use their right of free expression. We raised the crucial need to protect free speech online, reminding him that one Internet user out of three in the world does not have access to a free Web."

CPJ and RSF welcomed the appointment of a special rapporteur for human rights in Iran and asked for the secretary-general's assistance in the case of two French journalists who were kidnapped over a year ago in Afghanistan.


Source: Reporters without Borders (RSF)


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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Workshop on Safety and Protection of African Journalists

1 Sep 2010 19:42 Africa/Lagos

Workshop on safety and protection of African journalists


ADDIS ABABA, September 1, 2010/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Invitation to representatives of the media

Theme: “Peace and Security for African Journalists!!!”

WHEN: 2 – 3 September 2010

WHERE: Headquarters of the African Union Commission. Conference Center, Committee Room 2

WHO: The Division of Communication and Information (DCI) of the African Union Commission, in collaboration with the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ).

WHY: The Year of Peace and Security offers an unprecedented opportunity for the African Union Commission and the Federation of African Journalists to celebrate some accomplishments in partnership with the international community, and review current efforts to peace building on the continent, with a view to strengthening and, where appropriate, launching


new initiatives for peace and security. Such a goal cannot be reached if freedom of expression and a free media, key conditions for good democratic governance, are not able to flourish and journalists cannot work in a safe and secure environment. Thus, the need to join force in organizing this workshop on the safety and protection of African Journalists.


Objectives:


African journalists need the establishment of enduring and effective


safety standards throughout the continent so they can do their legitimate and much-needed work to keep citizens informed.


Safety training and protective equipment have in a few instances been


provided to journalists but they are not enough to guarantee their safety. In the end it will be up to the political will of African leaders


to spell out the measures necessary to help protect journalists.


Policies must be developed and implemented to minimise the risks


faced by journalists. Such measures will send a powerful message of support and solidarity for the newsmen and women who are committed to tell the story of Africa to the Africans and to the rest of the world.

Expected Outcome:

The draft resolution resulting from this workshop is expected to set out extensive policies that will impel member states, their legislative institutions and law enforcement agencies to deal with issues of protection of journalists and impunity.


Participants: The workshop will bring together:


Over 35 unions and associations of journalists across Africa;


Politicians;


Diplomatic Corps;


African Union officials;


Officials from the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) ;


Officials from the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ);


Journalists leaders in Africa


International and regional lawyers;


Advocacy groups and Safety experts amongst others.

Outline of the Draft Agenda:

Promoting the Safety of Journalists and Overview of Media Security in Africa: General Trends and Main Challenges:


The Risks of Death , Real and Serious: The Case of Somali Journalists


Deadly Trap of Investigative Journalism: Crimes against Journalists in Nigeria


Silence over Crimes and End of Press Freedom: The case of DR Congo


Precarious Working Conditions of North African Journalists


Legal Prospective: Who has responsibility to protect journalists and Why?


Women Reporting Wars – The Challenges


Key role of the African Union in protecting journalists' safety: Identify basis for action and draw up a plan


Measures to uphold the safety and protection of journalists in Africa


Impunity: Source of Insecurity and Continuous Danger



Background:


In Africa, the world's second largest and second most populous continent, journalists take great personal and professional risks to collect process and disseminate news and information to over 1 billion African citizens in 54 states. But sadly, being a journalist today in many places can often be a deadly pursuit, particularly for those covering conflict and other dangerous assignments. Conflict areas and post-conflict areas in Africa are predominantly dangerous environments for journalists.


The African Heads of States and Governments took the decision to declare 2010 the Year of Peace and Security in Africa, proclaiming in paragraph 9 of the Tripoli Declaration that: “We are determined to deal once and for all with the scourge of conflicts and violence on our continent, acknowledging our shortcomings and errors, committing our resources and our best people, and missing no opportunity to push forward the agenda of conflict prevention, peacemaking,


peacekeeping and post-conflict reconstruction. We, as leaders, simply cannot bequeath the burden of conflicts to the next generation of Africans”.


On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day on 3 May this year, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Mr. Jean Ping, condemned “all violations of the right to freedom of expression”. “During this year,” he said “our common goal is to make every effort to ensure that weapons are silent, crises are resolved and tensions subside, so that all African nations can peacefully continue continental integration and stand proudly amongst all nations. The press must be able to fully participate in this project by generating and conveying information, to freely play its role in sharing knowledge and in promoting a culture of peace. On this highly symbolic day, I also call upon all the actors of the media to join the African Union so that together we make peace happen in Africa. It is not an option for Africa but a necessity. Peace and security are sine qua non conditions for the development of the media industry and the effective promotion of freedom of expression.”


The Year of Peace and Security offers an unprecedented opportunity for African governments, citizens and institutions, in partnership with the international community, to celebrate our accomplishments and to review current efforts to peace building on the continent, with a view to strengthening these and, where appropriate, launching new initiatives for peace and security.


Journalists in Africa and associated media personnel like camera crew have been increasingly involved in covering news in so-called “hot spots” in war zones or hostile environments as conflicts flared up in countries like Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The mushrooming of news media organisations meant that increasing number of young people joining the profession without the necessary training on security awareness. At the same time, the technological advances allowed media houses to greatly increase the number of journalists covering conflicts while intensifying the competitive pressures that can force them to take unjustifiable risks. Camera crews and photographers take the biggest risks in conflict areas as they need to be up close to the action. Reporters are often at the sharp end in the battlefields because they want to get information from areas where others fear to tread. Some journalists started to believe that if there is no war, there is no news to report.


The working conditions of journalists are in the most cases inadequate. Journalists working in Africa, as fulltime, and as a freelance, are overall poorly remunerated. They do not enjoy health and safety protection and rarely are covered by insurance. They are not even provided with the necessary equipment to help them protect themselves in conflicts or civilian unrests. Most media houses are not financially stable or strong, and those who have the financial capacity to take safety measures do not want to invest in the safety of journalists.


The African Union Commission, the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ), the pan-African regional organisation of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), which is the global body of journalists representing 600,000 journalists worldwide, has been extremely concerned about the safety of journalists in Africa. Increased insisting that governments as well as media organisations which employ them should take steps to reduce the risks journalists face by protecting them and by ensuring that journalists have all the protective measures they might need.


The Federation of African Journalists and the African Union Commission have joined forces to organise this Regional Workshop on the Safety and Protection of African Journalists which concurs with the objectives associated with the Year of Peace and Security. The Workshop will bring together African journalists, AU politicians and officials, and civil society partners to discuss issues of protection of journalists and impunity. At the heart of these discussion will be the drafting of a resolution, similar to UN Security Council Resolution 1738, which will recognise the protection of journalists based on international law, various UN charters and AU constitutive act and resolutions/policies, Geneva conventions and additional protocols and will put the onus on member states to be responsible for putting an end to intentional attacks against journalists and media professionals, to comply fully with its obligations under international law and to respect their professional independence.


The continental congress of FAJ bringing together representatives of all the African journalists meeting in Harare, Zimbabwe, in March 2010, adopted a powerful resolution on safety and security of African journalists. The World Congress of the IFJ in May 2010 in Spain also unanimously voted for strong support of and solidarity with African journalists. The protection of journalists engaged in dangerous assignments in armed conflict is a major concern for the international community and a key obstacle for achieving the full implementation of the right to freedom of opinion and expression.


Obligations of governments related to the protection of journalists in armed conflict are mostly enshrined in international humanitarian law. The Third Geneva Convention, in its article 4(A) (4) states that persons who accompany the armed forces without actually being members thereof, such as war correspondents, provided that they have received authorisation, from the armed forces which they accompany, benefit from the prisoner-of-war status.


On 23 December 2006, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1738 calling on Governments to protect journalists in armed conflict situations. The Security Council expressed its deep concern at the frequency of acts of violence in many parts of the world against journalists, media professionals and associated personnel in armed conflict, in particular deliberate attacks in violation of international humanitarian law. It condemned intentional attacks against journalists, media professionals and associated personnel, as such, in situations of armed conflict, and calls upon all parties to put an end to such practices. The Security Council demanded that all parties to an armed conflict must comply with their obligations under international law to protect civilians in armed conflict. States and all other parties to an armed conflict were urged to do their utmost to prevent violations of international humanitarian law against civilians, including journalists, media professionals and associated personnel. It also emphasised the responsibility of States in that regard, as well as their obligation to end impunity and to prosecute those responsible for serious violations. UNESCO has a specific mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom. In this context, UNESCO has dedicated part of its work to the issue of protection of journalists, in armed conflicts in particular, and has taken various initiatives in that respect.


The Federation of African Journalists and the African Union Commission, in alliance with civil organisations, will endeavour to make the safety and security of African journalists a special feature of The Year of Peace and Security.


CONTACT PERSONS:

Mrs. Habiba Mejri-Cheikh
Spokesperson,
Head, Division of Communication and Information (DCI)
African Union Commission
Tel. Off. (+251) 11 551 7700 Ext. 236
Email: HabibaM@africa-union.org / Mejri-cheikh.habiba@hotmail.com


Mr. Omar Faruk Osman
President, Federation of African Journalists (FAJ)
Tel. +251921322802 / +253 869230
Email: omar@nusoj.org / faruk129@gmail.com


Skype: omarfaruk10


Source: African Union Commission (AUC)


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