News / Africa

UNESCO Acts to Ensure Journalists' Safety

William Eagle
The UN cultural agency, UNESCO, is calling for greater protections for the world’s journalists. It’s been joined by a number of international press freedom organizations.

The UN agency says 121 journalists were killed worldwide in 2012, almost twice the numbers from 2010 and 2011. 
 
The call is part of its observance of World Press Freedom Day.
                        
UNESCO and its partners are focusing on enhancing safety and combating impunity for crimes committed against journalists.
 
Last March, gunmen in Dar-es-Salaam attacked and beat Tanzanian editor Absalom Kibanda into unconsciousness.  The Media Institute of Southern Africa reports he lost teeth, nails and an eye. 

Hostile forces
 
His case in not unusual: Organizations note that few of the attacks are ever prosecuted, encouraging a culture of impunity for assaults on reporters – and freedom of expression. 

The Committee to Protect Journalists, CPJ, says 80 murders of journalists in Africa have remained unsolved since 1992.  Meanwhile, 41 African journalists will be marking World Press Freedom Day in prison.
 
The CPJ says the five countries with largest numbers of unsolved cases were Iraq, Somalia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Colombia…Nigeria was #11. 

Burundian journalist Hassan Ruvakuki received a life sentence on October 18, 2012. Authorities charged him with terrorism after he was convicted of planning then documenting a rebel attack in the eastern Cankuzo province neighbouring Tanzania. AFP PHOTO/Esdras NdikumanaBurundian journalist Hassan Ruvakuki received a life sentence on October 18, 2012. Authorities charged him with terrorism after he was convicted of planning then documenting a rebel attack in the eastern Cankuzo province neighbouring Tanzania. AFP PHOTO/Esdras Ndikumana
x
Burundian journalist Hassan Ruvakuki received a life sentence on October 18, 2012. Authorities charged him with terrorism after he was convicted of planning then documenting a rebel attack in the eastern Cankuzo province neighbouring Tanzania. AFP PHOTO/Esdras Ndikumana
Burundian journalist Hassan Ruvakuki received a life sentence on October 18, 2012. Authorities charged him with terrorism after he was convicted of planning then documenting a rebel attack in the eastern Cankuzo province neighbouring Tanzania. AFP PHOTO/Esdras Ndikumana
The forces arrayed against journalists include hostile governments, organized crime, and armed militants. Many reporters and media workers die in conflict areas, but most are threatened, intimidated or killed while reporting local stories.
 
CPJ’s Mohamed Keita  says in recent years, citizen journalists and bloggers have joined traditional reporters as targets.
 
"In places like Sudan," says Keita, "a lot of citizen reporters have been arrested for filming demonstrations and getting the word out. We’ve seen the same in Angola, which also experienced anti-government protests. In Ethiopia, they arrested citizen reporters for sending text messages and people attempting to upload footage via the social media. [An Ethiopian journalist] was also arrested for blogging about the Arab Spring.  And, Zimbabwe prosecuted a man for posting a political comment on Facebook in 2011."

Outside forces
 
The CPJ Africa expert says that outside forces are also contributing to the problem.
 
"Just recently," he says, "it was reported that the Nigerian government has awarded an Israeli surveillance company a contract to intercept telecommunications of civilians in Nigeria"

"We know the Chinese company ZTE is heavily involved in Africa," he continued. "In the case of Ethiopia, ZTE got the contract to overhaul the country’s telecom infrastructure and increase and improve services. Shortly after that, we noticed the first reports of web sites being blocked in the country. We’ve also heard allegations that some Western and French companies have transferred surveillance technologies to governments in francophone Africa."

Ethiopian columnist Eskinder Nega was charged with being a dangerous individual bent on violent revolution. He is serving 18 years in prison. (Eskinder Nega / CPJ photo illustration)Ethiopian columnist Eskinder Nega was charged with being a dangerous individual bent on violent revolution. He is serving 18 years in prison. (Eskinder Nega / CPJ photo illustration)
x
Ethiopian columnist Eskinder Nega was charged with being a dangerous individual bent on violent revolution. He is serving 18 years in prison. (Eskinder Nega / CPJ photo illustration)
Ethiopian columnist Eskinder Nega was charged with being a dangerous individual bent on violent revolution. He is serving 18 years in prison. (Eskinder Nega / CPJ photo illustration)
UNESCO and press rights groups are aiming to beef up measures protecting the free press with the U.N. Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. 
 
Janis Karklins, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, says police and law enforcement officers must understand that attacks against the press are attacks against democracy. Karklins says an independent press is just as important as the three pillars of democracy: the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government.  
 
"Journalists represent what we call the Fourth Power (or Estate)," says Karklins, "and they should be as equally protected [as the other branches of government] in a given country. Today we do not see that this is the case everywhere. We are also working with governments to make sure all legislative frameworks that exist [to protect freedom of expression and of the press] are empowered and used properly."

Armed gunmen attacked Mohamed Ahmed Jama, the owner of the Hubaal Media Network in Somaliland on April 30. (Hubaal Media Network)Armed gunmen attacked Mohamed Ahmed Jama, the owner of the Hubaal Media Network in Somaliland on April 30. (Hubaal Media Network)
x
Armed gunmen attacked Mohamed Ahmed Jama, the owner of the Hubaal Media Network in Somaliland on April 30. (Hubaal Media Network)
Armed gunmen attacked Mohamed Ahmed Jama, the owner of the Hubaal Media Network in Somaliland on April 30. (Hubaal Media Network)
Karklins says UNESCO is asking governments to voluntarily provide information on the results of investigations of killings of journalists. It’s also working with the corporate media and journalists’ associations to help train reporters to operate in a hostile environment.
 
"We are working with their publishers and employers to make sure employers are not misusing journalists and not sending part-time journalists, or freelancers, to dangerous places without providing them with necessary protection," says Karklins.. "This is also the obligation of the employer to provide necessary protection to their journalists when they are doing their work."

Training for hostile environments

One group helping to train journalists is the International News Safety Institute in London.  INSI, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary today, World Press Freedom Day, works to provide practical safety advice and information for journalists working in types of dangerous environments. That advice includes how best to prepare and plan for their deployments in a way that reduces risk.
 
Director Hanna Storm says the institute also teaches traditional reporters, free lancers and bloggers how to protect records of contacts.  Such records can easily be hacked by governments or outside groups.  Reporters’ cell phones can also be accessed to reveal their locations.
 
"Say for instance you happen to update your Facebook status with a comment on where you are or you tweet something about someone appearance or presence, or someone’s [potential] death," she says.  "All that can have massive ramifications on the safety of individuals and particularly of local fixers and journalists."

UNESCO World Press Freedom Day logo 2013 (UNESCO)UNESCO World Press Freedom Day logo 2013 (UNESCO)
x
UNESCO World Press Freedom Day logo 2013 (UNESCO)
UNESCO World Press Freedom Day logo 2013 (UNESCO)
Her institute is also working to protect hundreds of journalists who live in exile.
 
"Our special report [for this inter-agency plan] is looking at issues of good practice where governments and civil society groups can work to support exiled journalists with safe houses, support their re-integration into societies, provide support for their families, and some degree of mentoring if they need to change their job and put some sort of network in place for journalists have faced similar issues and threats," she says.
 
UNESCO’s action plan also calls for access to health care and life insurance for journalists.
 
And, it calls for member states to end any statute of limitations on those guilty of crimes against freedom of expression and to remove defamation as a criminal action. 
 
Mohamed Keita of the Committee Protect Journalists says safeguarding freedom of the press benefits development.   Good reporting can expose corruption and mismanagement that reduces economic growth and can lead to political instability. But human rights groups journalists are paying a high price to do their job. 

Listen to report on Africa and World Press Freedom Day
Listen to report on Africa and World Press Freedom Day i
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

You May Like

Multimedia Obama, Modi Resolve Nuclear Deal Issues

Leaders find resolution on issues of liability of suppliers to India in event of nuclear accident, US demands to track whereabouts of material supplied to country More

WHO's Late Efforts in Tackling Ebola Highlight Need for Reform

Health experts debate measures to reform agency’s response to global public health emergencies in special one-day session on deadly outbreak More

One Tumultuous Year in Power for CAR's President

As sectarian violence raged across Central African Republic, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza has Herculean task: to end civil war and put country back on right track More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Mourin from: USA
May 04, 2013 8:14 AM
hey how many time have we seen "journalists" taking active part in terrorist activities... remember Hamas "journalists"... "Palestinian Journalists"... if we give Journalists special protection, don't be surprised if all Gaza, Hamas, Hezbullah, Al Nusra, Al Qaieda Terrorists suddenly become "Journalists"

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid