WAN-IFRA joins 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 in NYC, Dr Draghici said that 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
IFJ President Philippe Leruth said: “A journalist’s murder simply because of his or her activity is a scandal, but a far bigger scandal is that 9 out of every 10 journalists' murders remain unpunished. The Khashoggi case, like all the others, illustrate that journalists are singled out as a target and as such they need dedicated protection”.
Elena Perotti, Executive Director Public Affairs and Media Policy at WAN-IFRA said "In the current international legal framework there are 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.”
Johannes Studinger, General Secretary of UNI-MEI told the meeting: “Not a week goes by without us receiving 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”.
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”.
The questions most frequently asked to the delegation that presented the draft at the UN headquarters in New York on 22 and 23 October 2018 can be found at the following link: blog.wan-ifra.org
FIVE REASONS TO SUPPORT THE INITIATIVE
The Convention would rectify a gap in international law for binding norms establishing safeguards for media workers specifically.
The Convention not only includes incontrovertible obligations such as protection of journalists against attacks on their life, arbitrary arrest or forced disappearances, but also others so far found only in soft law, like: obligation to protect the confidentiality of journalistic sources; not to misuse national security to hinder the work of journalists through arbitrary detention; to conduct an effective investigation where crimes against journalists have been committed, capable of bringing to justice not only the executors, but also the moral authors of crimes
The Convention includes not only journalists, but all the media professionals who are at risk every day, from the cameramen, drivers, interpreters etc
The Convention allows denunciation of systematic violations by persons other than the direct victims, effectively combating self-censorship.
The Convention provides for interim measures and an expedite procedure in case of alleged violations.