News / Africa

UNESCO Acts to Ensure Journalists' Safety

TEXT SIZE - +
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

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid