THE International Federation of Journalists is alarmed by the continued murder of journalists. IFJ president Philippe Leruth said a journalist’s murder for his or her activity was a scandal, but a far bigger scandal is that nine out of every 10 journalists’ murders remain unpunished. WAN-IFRA has joined forces with a coalition of international organisations to campaign for the adoption of a new UN Convention dedicated to the protection of media professionals.
The consortium includes representatives of journalists, media workers, broadcasters, and newspapers from around the world. Meeting at the UN headquarters in New York with state representatives from Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, Latin America, Asia and North America, the coalition set out the case for a new UN Convention with the objective to rectify a gap in international law for binding norms establishing safeguards for journalists and media professionals including cameramen, photographers, technical supporting staff, drivers and interpreters, editors, translators, publishers, broadcasters, printers and distributors.
The initiative was launched by the International Federation of Journalists, with a convention drafted by International Human Rights expert Carmen Draghici, senior lecturer in law, City University in London. During the meeting, Dr Draghici said there was a clear case for a dedicated instrument to tackle crimes against journalists as a result of the deliberate targeting of journalists and the systemic impact of attacks on media workers for citizens right to know.
Leruth said: “A journalist’s murder simply because of his or her activity is a scandal, but a far bigger scandal is that nine out of every 10 journalists’ murders remain unpunished. The [Jamal] Khashoggi case, like all the others, illustrates that journalists are singled out as a target and as such they need dedicated protection.”
WAN-IFRA executive director public affairs and media policy Elena Perotti said in the current international legal framework there were no binding norms establishing safeguards for media workers specifically.
“This undeniably contributes to the phenomenon of the accountability bar being reset to the lowest level by States getting away with the normalisation of a culture of violence against journalists,” said Perotti.
UNI-MEI general secretary Johannes Studinger told the meeting that not a week goes by without reports of yet more attacks or repression against media workers.
“Unless there is action we fear that we will just keep talking about more and more attacks. We express our support for the IFJ initiative,” said Studinger.
IFJ general secretary Anthony Bellanger said today was an important first step towards securing enhanced protection for journalists and media professionals.
“We welcome the support and commitment from member states and our fellow professional organisations and will continue to build a broader coalition to deliver real action on impunity,” said Bellanger.