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10 IFEX members sign on to UNESCO conference resolution on Terrorism and Media

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - The following resolution on Terrorism and Media was adopted by media professionals and press freedom groups, including 10 IFEX members, at a 1-2 May 2002 UNESCO Conference on Media and Terrorism in Manila, the Philippines:

Resolution on Terrorism and Media:

Participants at the UNESCO-sponsored conference on Terrorism and Media, meeting in Manila, the Philippines from 1-2 May 2002:

Recalling the fundamental role of the media in meeting the public's right to know, including about issues relating to terrorism;

Condemning killing of, attacks on, threats against and harassment of journalists reporting on terrorism and conflicts;

Concerned about the restrictions imposed on the right to freedom of expression and to freedom of information by a growing number of States in the aftermath of the attacks of September 11;

Convinced that open public debate and the free flow of information are essential to any long-term solutions to the problems of terrorism;

Welcoming the Charter for the Safety of Journalists Working in War Zones or Dangerous Areas, adopted by concerned organisations in Paris on 8 March 2002, and the Safety Charter, adopted in Montreal in 1992;

Noting the Joint Message for World Press Freedom Day, 3 May 2002, by Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the UN, Mary Robinson, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, which recognised the importance of press freedom and freedom of expression in the fight against terrorism;

Resolve as follows:

Any strategy to address the threat of terrorism must promote greater respect for freedom of expression and of the media, rather than imposing restrictions on these fundamental rights;

Right to Report on Terrorism

The media has both a right and a duty to report fully on terrorism in the interest of the public's right to know and to promote open, informed debate about terrorism;

All parties to conflicts should respect the right of journalists to investigate and report freely on conflict and to have maximum access to conflict areas;

The threat of terrorism should not be used as an excuse to impose restrictions on the right to freedom of expression and of the media, or on freedom of information, and specifically on the following rights:
· to editorial independence;
· to protect confidential sources of information;
· to access information held by public bodies;
· to freedom of movement; and
· to privacy of communications;

Media outlets, journalists and publishers and broadcasters associations, academic institutions and other civil society organisations should take measures to enhance the capacity of the media to report professionally on terrorism and to promote tolerance, including through training and providing opportunities for discussion of ethical issues relating to reporting on terrorism;

Safety of Journalists

States at peace, as well as all parties to conflicts, should take effective measures to ensure that they, military forces, combatants, as well as secret and intelligence services and other officials engaged in combating terrorism, understand and respect the rights of journalists as civilians under the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols, as well as their right to freedom of expression;

States should devote sufficient resources and attention to preventing attacks on journalists, to investigating such attacks when they occur and to bringing those responsible to justice without delay;

States at peace, as well as all parties to conflicts, should never allow their agents or combatants to pose as journalists, or attempt to use journalists as agents;

Media outlets, journalists and publishers and broadcasters associations and other civil society organisations should take measures to promote the safety of journalists reporting on conflict and terrorism, including through training, the development of safety guidelines and the provision of appropriate equipment; and

The news media industry and the international community should consider establishing a fund to assist under-resourced media organisations and freelance journalists to have access to safety training and equipment.

The following 10 IFEX members adopted the resolution:

Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility
Free Media Movement
Human Rights Watch
International Federation of Journalists
Pacific Islands News Association
Pakistan Press Foundation
Thai Journalists Association
World Association of Newspapers
World Press Freedom Committee


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