Safety of Journalists > Blog > 15th IFJ Focus on Safety

15th IFJ Focus on Safety

05 October 2016

Welcome to the new issue of the IFJ Focus on Safety, a blog which provides highlights, news and in-depth analysis of safety-related events of concerns to journalists. The blog is part of the IFJ strategy to promote the safety of journalists and to combat the issue of impunity.

Please check out the IFJ International Code of Practice for the Safe Conduct of Journalism at the end of this issue.

We value your feedback and would like to hear about your safety experience in the field as well as any safety-related stories you would like to share with members of the IFJ family, the global journalists’ community.

The new issue covers the following safety-related events and activities which took place in September 2016:

UN Human Rights Council Adopt New Resolution on Journalists’ Safety

The 33rd Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a new resolution on the promotion of journalists’ safety on 29 September in Geneva.

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 urged 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. Read more here

  • UN Human Rights Council Urged to End Continuing Intimidation and Attacks against SomalJournalists

    UN Human Rights Council Urged to End Continuing Intimidation and Attacks against Somali Journalists

    The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its Somali affiliate the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ urged the UN Human Rights Council to press on the Federal Government of Somalia and its regional administrations the need to end the continuing intimidation, harassment and attacks against journalists, the) has told the UN Human Rights Council yesterday in Geneva.

    In his speech to the HRC, Mr. Bahame Tom M. Nyanduga, the UN Independent Expert on Human Rights Situation in Somalia, said “in-spite of the adoption of the media law, media practitioners continue to complain about physical attacks, harassment, intimidation and arbitrary arrests by security forces, in particularly the National Intelligence Agency, NISA. Alleged intimidation has included closing of radio and television stations, confiscation of equipment, and prosecution of media personnel for reporting on insurgency. “ Read more here

    The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its Somali affiliate the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ urged the UN Human Rights Council to press on the Federal Government of Somalia and its regional administrations the need to end the continuing intimidation, harassment and attacks against journalists, the) has told the UN Human Rights Council yesterday in Geneva.

    In his speech to the HRC, Mr. Bahame Tom M. Nyanduga, the UN Independent Expert on Human Rights Situation in Somalia, said “in-spite of the adoption of the media law, media practitioners continue to complain about physical attacks, harassment, intimidation and arbitrary arrests by security forces, in particularly the National Intelligence Agency, NISA. Alleged intimidation has included closing of radio and television stations, confiscation of equipment, and prosecution of media personnel for reporting on insurgency. “ Read more here

    Somalia: UN General Secretary Condemns Attacks against Journalists’ Union

    The UN Secretary General’s report on reprisals against human rights defenders denounced the harassment of the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), an IFJ affiliate.. The report contains information gathered between 1 June 2015 and 31 May 2016 on alleged cases of intimidation and reprisal against those seeking to cooperate, cooperating or having cooperated with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights. Somalia appears for the first time in this report. Read more here


    Kenya: Journalists’ Protests Attacks on Media

    Dozens of journalists took to the streets of the Kenyan capital Nairobi on Thursday to protest against a growing spate of attacks on journalists and the mysterious death of reporter Joseph Masha.

    The Kilifi-based journalist died a day after meeting with a politician and suspicion about his death has dominated mainstream and social media since news of his death last Saturday. Protestors – including members of IFJ-affiliate the Kenyan Union of Journalists - gathered at Uhuru Park in Nairobi to denounce the harassment.

    According to press reports since the beginning of this year, journalists from around the country have been subjected to harassment, arrest and torture by politicians and security agents. Recently journalists Julius Kariithi and James Mwangi were beaten up by security guards in Murang’a County as they covered protests over claims a private company had seized land belonging to the local school. They lost one camera and another was damaged. Kariithi also lost a digital voice recorder and his laptop was damaged by a club. Read more here


    IFJ Runs Safety Training for Journalists and Media Workers in Yemen

    Seventeen journalists and photographers completed a two-day safety training yesterday in Sana’a/Yemen. The training was organised by the Yemen Journalists' Syndicate (YJS) and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).

    Participants received specialised training on risk management, safety procedures and first aid. With at least 6 deaths this year and multiple cases of violence, torture and abductions of Yemeni journalists the YJS General Secretary, Mohammed Shebeita, underlined the importance of safety training for local journalists. Read more here


    Russia: Investigative Journalist Assaulted in Siberia

    On 26 September, Grigory Pasko, Director of the international NGO Community of Investigative Journalists, was beaten by two unknown assailants in the city of Barnaul, in Siberia, with the cry of "get out of our city!". The investigative journalist managed to escape with concussion and a bruise to half of his face, reports said.

    Pasko had arrived in Barnaul to train local journalists on investigative-reporting techniques. When he arrived at his hotel, he noticed he was being followed by an unknown man. He became more suspicious when the police arrived before the start of the training session in order to check the passports of the assistants. The assault took place after the training session and Pasko alerted the hotel staff that his attackers had “promised to return”. Read more here


    Ukraine: IFJ/EFJ Condemns Arson Attack on TV Station

    According to reports, a group of around 20 activists staged a rally on 6 September in front of Inter TV’s building, set tyres on fire and threw a smoke bomb into the premises, causing a fire which damaged the first and second floor.

    The Independent Media Trade Union of Ukraine (IMTUU), an IFJ/EFJ affiliate, reported that one of its members, Inter TV journalist Olena Zorina, seriously injured her backbone while escaping from the fire. Others suffered from smoke inhalation and at least 30 people were evacuated. The station continued broadcasting from mobile facilities outside the building. Six people have been arrested.

    The TV channel is regarded by many Ukrainians as having Russian links and supporting Kremlin policy in Ukraine. Since the beginning of 2016 it has been attacked four times, media added. Read more here.


    Ireland: IFJ Backs Calls for Action on O'Hagan Murder

    The IFJ has today backed calls by its UK and Ireland affiliate the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) for the Irish government to apply pressure on British Prime Minister Theresa May for a new investigation into the murder in Belfast of Sunday World journalist and NUJ activist Martin O’Hagan.

    On the 15th anniversary of his death, the union called on the Irish Foreign Affairs Minister, Charlie Flanagan, to support the call by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) for the authorities in the UK to intensify their efforts to find the killers.

    Dunja Mijatović, an OSCE freedom of the media representative, said: "Fifteen years on from this horrific murder, no one has been brought to justice for the killing of O’Hagan.” and "It is high time for justice to be served in this case". Read more here.


    Filipino Journalists Threatened on Social Media

    Freelance journalist Gretchen Malalad and Al Jazeera correspondent Jamela Alindogan-Caudron were targeted for their critical reporting of the Philippine government’s controversial anti-drug campaign, which has seen almost 2500 people killed since the inauguration of President Rodrigo Duterte on 30 June. Malalad allegedly provided information to a TIME Magazine journalist writing about the consequences of the government policy and President Duterte’s purported connections to extra-judicial killings. Both journalists have received threats of rape and harm towards their families. Read more here.


    Journalists Attacked and Arrested while Covering Protests in China

    At least eight Hong Kong and foreign journalists were attacked and arrested as they attempted to cover a large protest in Wukan village on 14 September in Guangdong Province. Journalists and photographers from Ming Pao Daily, HK01, South China Morning Post (SCMP) and Reuters were arrested by more than a dozen riot police. The journalists were in Wukan village covering a large protest, which police were trying to pacify. At least three of the media workers were arrested in a local house when it was raided by over 20 riot police, while others were arrested outside the village.

    According to the arrested journalists, when they were arrested they immediately identified themselves and showed their accreditation, as well as following police instruction. However they were pushed to the ground, accused of stealing, slapped and punched by police. All of the arrested journalists were taken to Lufeng police station where they were interrogated by officers from the local propaganda department, local police department and officers from the External Affairs Propaganda Department. Read more here


    Journalists Face Difficulties as Unrest in Kashmir Continues

    According to reports, journalists and photojournalists are being subjected to attacks and harassment on a daily basis since the unrest began in the Kashmir region on 8 July. At least four major incidents of press freedom violation were reported in first week of September.

    On September 3, two photojournalists Muzamil Mattoo of the Kashmir Readerand Zuhaib Maqbool of an online news portal, were injured by the pellets fired by the security forces on a procession at Rainawari, Old Srinagar. Matoo sustained pellet injuries in head, back and arm, while Maqbool was hit in the eye and needed surgery. “A policeman who saw us taking photos fired pellets directly at us,” Mattoo told his newspaper.

    A day earlier on 2 September, the Jammu Kashmir Armed Police force thrashed at least half-a-dozen photojournalists at Batamaloo in Srinagar while they were on duty. Mubashir Khan(Greater Kashmir),Aman Farooq (Greater Kashmir), Faisal Khan (Kashmir Reader), Shah Jahangir (CNS), Omar Asif (KNS), andBilal Bahadur (Kashmir Life) were assaulted and thrashed by government forces. Following the thrashing, the journalists staged a sit-in protest against the police action. Read more here.

    IFJ Safety Fund Situation: Up to September 2016

    The International Safety Fund of the International Federation of Journalists has paid out over 40.000 Euro in financial relief and humanitarian assistance to journalists and media staff across the globe since the start of 2016.

    Number of Journalists Killed in 2016

    According to the IFJ statistics, at least 60 journalists and media staff have been killed in 2016 so far. The victims come from 17 different countries, of which Afghanistan has recorded the highest death toll with 10, followed by Mexico (7), India, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria and Yemen with 5 killings each.

    For details, please visit http://ifj-safety.org/en/killings

    IFJ International Code of Practice for the Safe Conduct of Journalism

    The dangers to journalists and media staff working in dangerous situations and conflict zones are the subject of extensive record. The IFJ has recorded the deaths of more than 1000 journalists and media staff over the past ten years.

    Many journalists are killed, injured or harassed in war zones, either targeted by one side or another or caught in the crossfire of violence. Others are victims of premeditated assault and intimidation either by criminals, terrorists or by agencies of the state — the police, the military or the security forces — acting secretly and illegally.

    Very often there is little that journalists or media organisations can do to avoid casualties. There will, inevitably, be accidents, no matter how much care is taken to provide protection and there is little one can do when those targeting media use ruthless and brutal methods to crush journalistic inquiry.

    However, there are steps that journalists and media organisations should take to minimise the risks to staff. In particular, the following are vital considerations in providing protection:

    Adequate preparation, training and social protection. It is essential that journalists and media staff be in a state of readiness when difficulties arise. There should be a framework for providing individuals with health care and social protection.

    Media professionals must be informed and inform themselves about the political, physical, and social terrain in which they are working. They must not contribute to the uncertainty and insecurity of their conditions through ignorance or reckless behaviour.

    Mediaorganisationsmust guard against risk-taking for competitive advantage, and should promote co-operation among journalists whenever conditions exist which are potentially hazardous.

    Governments must remove obstacles to journalism. They must not restrict unnecessarily the freedom of movement of journalists or compromise the right of news media to gather, produce and disseminate information in secure and safe conditions.

    People Must Keep Their Hands Off Media. Everyone should respect the physical integrity of journalists and media staff at work. Physical interference with filming or other journalistic work must be prohibited.

    With these considerations in mind, the IFJ calls on journalists groups, mediaorganisationsand all relevant public authorities to respect the following International Code of Practice for the Safe Conduct of Journalism:

    1. Journalists and other media staff shall be properly equipped for all assignments including through the provision of first-aid materials, communication tools, adequate transport facilities and, where necessary, protective clothing;

    2. Media organisations and, where appropriate, state authorities shall provide risk awareness training for those journalists and media workers who are likely to be involved in assignments where dangerous conditions prevail or may be reasonably expected;

    3. Public authorities shall inform their personnel of the need to respect the rights of journalists and shall instruct them to respect the physical integrity of journalists and media staff while at work;

    4. Media organisations shall provide social protection for all staff engaged in journalistic activity outside the normal place of work, including life insurance;

    5. Media organisations shall provide, free of charge, medical treatment and health care, including costs of recuperation and convalescence, for journalists and media workers who are the victims of injury or illness as a result of their work outside the normal place of work;

    6. Media organisations shall protect freelance or part-time employees. They must receive, on an equal basis, the same social protection and access to training and equipment as that made available to fully employed staff.