Members of the global media community, including some of the top editors and journalists associated with media, signed an eight-point declaration in London to demand action from concerned governments to stop the killing and harassment of journalists and end impunity.
The declaration was signed on Thursday, October 18 ahead of the United Nations Vienna Inter-Agency meeting with media and journalist organisations, which will be held on November 22-23 in Vienna.
The meeting on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity will be convened by UNESCO and co-hosted by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Representatives of major newspapers and broadcasters in 120 countries including some of the most dangerous countries for journalists, including Pakistan, Mexico, Russia, Sri Lanka and Somalia, agreed that threats, both physical and legal must end.
According to the Wan-Ifra web site, a rare window of opportunity for global action had opened up ahead of the UN meeting which will focus on practical ways to implement the UN Plan of Action for the Safety of Journalists at country, regional and local level.
We, members of the global media community meeting in London on 18 October 2012:
1- Condemn all cases of killings and other physical attacks, intimidation, harassment, abduction and wrongful imprisonment as well as other forms of oppression of journalists and other media workers;
2- Express our dismay at the failure of many governments to end impunity for the killers of journalists;
3- Register our disappointment and concern at the lack of effectiveness of previous United Nations interventions including UNSC Resolution 1738 on the safety of journalists in conflict and an end to impunity;
4- Affirm that the right of journalists and media workers to work free from harm, harassment and abuse is fundamental to freedom of expression and therefore a matter of urgent and legitimate concern for governments and societies around the world as well as the news media themselves;
5- Welcome the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity and declare that this historic commitment should fulfil the high expectations to which it gives rise;
6- Express our strong concern that in carrying forward the Plan of Action, the UN system, as well as other relevant national and international bodies, should operate effectively and in accountable ways to persuade Member States to create safe environments for working journalists;
7- Encourage all news media to monitor regularly the actions of their governments, judicial authorities and other institutions in implementing the Plan and ending impunity;
8- Propose that the acute concerns of the news media for meaningful and practical actions are fully and seriously taken into account at the UN Inter-Agency Meeting being held in Vienna in November and thereafter in the effective implementation of the UN Plan.
The following were also proposed from the floor and supported by a number of participants at the Symposium on “Media Responses to Matters of Life and Death” hosted in London by the Centre for Freedom of the Media, University of Sheffield, and BBC College of Journalism:-
1- The killing of a journalist in the course of their duty should be regarded as a crime against humanity (Bob Tyrer, The Sunday Times)
2- UNESCO should require Member States to provide yearly reports on the progress of investigations into journalist killings (Zaffar Abbas, Dawn Newspaper, Pakistan)
3- Media houses are encouraged to provide proper safety training and insurance to all staff, stringers and associated personnel (Zaffar Abbas, Dawn Newspapers, Pakistan)
Signatories of the London Statement by members of the global media community on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, October 2012:-
African Editors Forum
Association of Commercial Television in Europe
BBC Global News
Blue Dot Safety Training
Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (ABRAJI)
Centre for Freedom of the Media, University of Sheffield
City University, London
Colombo Telegraph, Sri Lanka
Commonwealth Journalists Association
Commonwealth Media Group
Commonwealth Press Union Trust
Daily Telegraph, UK
Dawn Newspaper, Pakistan