(Report by Dr Shahid Qureshi – Paris) Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) urged UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to take steps to address the urgent issue of safety of journalists.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Secretary General Christophe Deloire and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) Executive Director Joel Simon met with United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres today to discuss the #ProtectJournalists campaign to appoint a UN Special Representative for the safety of journalists. David Callaway, board nominee for president of the World Editor’s Forum, part of WAN-IFRA, an early supporter of the campaign, also attended the meeting.
“On behalf of RSF, I welcome Secretary General Guterres’ strong personal commitment to the safety of journalists and a free and independent press, said Christophe Deloire, RSF’s Secretary General.The UNSG believes that these issues are fundamental to democracy and human rights and has pledged to take action. We are counting on him to make the UN more efficient so that journalists can be better protected.”
“As journalists around the world are increasingly under attack physically and verbally it is encouraging and gratifying to have this kind of support from the Secretary General, said Joel Simon, CPJ’s Executive Director. We look forward to working with him to move this commitment forward.”
The goal of the #ProtectJournalists campaign is to establish a concrete mechanism that enforces international law and thereby finally reduces the number of journalists killed every year in the course of their work.
Statistics show that despite various UN resolutions related to safety of journalists and combating impunity, there have been few concrete results on the ground. In fact, the past five years have been the deadliest on record for journalists, with hundreds of journalists killed and many more attacked simply for doing their jobs. RSF reported that 78 journalists were killed in the year 2016 alone and impunity remains the norm, with full justice in only three percent of journalist murders in the past decade, according to CPJ research.
Murder is the ultimate form of censorship, and when a journalist is killed the right to information for the broader public is also imperiled. The world’s major problems, from environmental issues to extremist violence, cannot be resolved without the work of journalists.
A worldwide coalition of NGOs, media outlets, journalists and prominent public figures are supporting RSF’s initiative for the creation of a Journalist Protector. CPJ, the Associated Press, WAN-IFRA, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Bangkok Post, and the Brazilian Center for Investigative Journalism (Abraji) are just a few of the more than 120 organizations that have joined the coalition to date.
This week several coalition members, such as the James W. Foley Foundation, the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression, and the Pakistan Press Foundation, sent letters to Secretary General Guterres echoing the call for the appointment of a Special Representative.