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UN Human Rights Council motion "condemns all attacks and violence against journalists"

Family members of murdered photojournalist Ruben Espinosa grieve in Mexico City, 3 August 2015. Mexican journalist protection groups are expressing fears that authorities won't consider Espinosa's brutal killing as being related to his work - even though he fled the state he covered fearing for his safety.
Family members of murdered photojournalist Ruben Espinosa grieve in Mexico City, 3 August 2015. Mexican journalist protection groups are expressing fears that authorities won't consider Espinosa's brutal killing as being related to his work - even though he fled the state he covered fearing for his safety.

AP Photo/Sofia Jaramillo

This statement was originally published on ifj.org on 29 September 2016.

The IFJ has welcomed a call by the United Nations to tackle impunity for crimes against media workers, as part of a wide-ranging motion promoting the safety of journalists, adopted by the Human Rights Council (HCR) in Geneva today.

The 5-page motion “condemns all attacks and violence against journalists” and recognises media freedom as a cornerstone of democratic societies. It also expresses deep concern over all human rights violations against journalists which undermine freedom of expression and lead to self-censorship or deters journalists from continuing their work.

In particular the motion, adopted at the 33rd Session of the HCR, calls for action by states to:

• Immediately and unconditionally release all journalists arbitrarily arrested or arbitrarily detained

• Create and maintain, in practice and in law, a safe and enabling environment for journalists to perform their work independently and without undue interference

• Develop and implement strategies for combating impunity for attacks and violence against journalists

• More effectively implement a legal framework for the protection of journalists

• Pay particular attention to ensuring the safety of journalists at election times

• Ensure laws designed to combat terrorism do not undermine the rights of journalists

• Protect in law and practice the confidentiality of journalists' sources and not interfere in journalists' use of encryption and anonymity tools

The UN also called on media companies to ensure they provided adequate safety, risk awareness, digital security and self-protection training together with protective equipment and insurance.

We welcome the overwhelming recognition of the vital role that journalists play in holding power to account and the need for action to ensure their safety. But words alone are not enough. This motion must be followed up with action...
IFJ President Philippe Leruth

The IFJ welcomed the motion but warned that the key was in how it is implemented. It expressed its concern that in too many cases mechanisms to enforce the UN's calls were weak, limited or non-existent and called on media freedom supporters to “maintain the pressure for action”.

IFJ President Philippe Leruth said: “We welcome the overwhelming recognition of the vital role that journalists play in holding power to account and the need for action to ensure their safety. But words alone are not enough. This motion must be followed up with action to stop thousands of journalists being killed, attacked and prevented from doing their work and their attackers avoiding being brought before justice and to receive punishment for their crimes”.

The full text of the motion is available here.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
What other IFEX members are saying
  • UN HRC: Resolution on Safety of Journalists Breaks New Ground

    "Violence against journalists and impunity for crimes against them remains one of the greatest challenge to freedom of expression worldwide," said Thomas Hughes, Executive Director of ARTICLE 19. "This is an unequivocal commitment from states to ensure that these crimes do not go unpunished and to prevent their recurrence."

  • CPJ welcomes UN Human Rights resolution on releasing jailed journalists, right to encryption

    "We welcome this resolution, which acknowledges that U.N. member states are responsible for much of the violence against journalists and must do more to combat it," said CPJ's advocacy director, Courtney Radsch. "We hope to see more concrete action from member states, including revision of legal frameworks that threaten media independence and halting the arbitrary detention of journalists."



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