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Free expression groups call on UN to appoint Special Representative for the Safety of Journalists

34 IFEX members are supporting RSF's initiative to create the position of a Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for the Safety of Journalists.

UN General Assembly
UN General Assembly

To all Permanent Representatives and Permanent Observers to the United Nations, New York

Your Excellency,

Reporters sans frontieres (RSF) and the undersigned signatories are urging the General Assembly to appoint a Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for the safety of journalists as soon as possible.

787 journalists and media personnel were killed while exercising their profession over the last 10 years, according to our figures, including 67 in 2015 alone.

Through them, the right to information of hundreds of millions of citizens has been sacrificed. The main problems of the world, from environmental issues to extremist violence, cannot be processed without the work of journalists worthy of the name.

Despite various resolutions adopted in the past decade, including by the Security Council and the General Assembly, the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in his last annual report on the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity (published on August 6, 2015) doesn't hesitate to speak of “failure to reduce the frequency and scale of targeted violence that journalists face and the near absolute impunity for such crimes.”

These strong resolutions could be no more than empty words without a concrete mechanism to assure the compliance of member states with their obligations.

Only a Special Representative working closely with the UN Secretary General will have the political weight, the capacity to act quickly, and the legitimacy to coordinate with all UN bodies to implement change.

Giving the Special Representative a central and permanent position under the UN Secretary General aegis would significantly empower the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity and all UN efforts lead by UNESCO, the Human Rights Council, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, as well as reinforce the regional actions of the Council of Europe or the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (Organization of American States).

Despite the progress that has already been made, more needs to be done. We count on you to appoint a Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for the safety of journalists as soon as possible.

Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of our highest consideration.

Reporters Without Borders
Adil Soz - International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech
Afghanistan Journalists Center
Albanian Media Institute
Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain
Association of Independent Electronic Media
Bahrain Center for Human Rights
Brazilian Association for Investigative Journalism
Cambodian Centre for Independent Media
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
Cartoonists Rights Network International
Committee to Protect Journalists
Freedom Forum
Freedom House
Hungarian Civil Liberties Union
Independent Journalism Center - Moldova
Index on Censorship
Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety
International Publishers Association
Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance
Media Foundation for West Africa
Media Institute of Southern Africa
Media Rights Agenda
Media Watch
Mizzima News
Norwegian PEN
Pacific Freedom Forum (PFF)
Pakistan Press Foundation
Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms - MADA
PEN American Center
South East European Network for Professionalization of Media
Vigilance pour la Démocratie et l’État Civique
West African Journalists Association
World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers

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