Safety of Journalists > Blog > ​16th IFJ Focus on Safety

​16th IFJ Focus on Safety

01 December 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 issue covers the following safety-related events and activities which took place in November 2016:

CONFERENCE ON IMPUNITY FOR CRIMES AGAINST JOURNALISTS CALLS FOR CODIFICATION OF PROTECTION MEASURES

A conference convened by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) on ending impunity for crimes targeting journalists and media workers recommended addressing current weaknesses in the international legal framework for greater media protection through the adoption of a new convention on the safety of journalists.

Delegates to the conference highlighted a series of existing weaknesses in the protection of journalists including the non-recognition of victim status to journalists, the limited efficiency of the general provisions of International Human Rights Law for media protection and the lack of recognition of their profession. Read more here

IFJ Marks Third UN Day against Impunity for Crime Targeting Journalists with Call to Turn Words into Action

On the third commemoration of the UN Day against impunity for crime targeting journalists, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), challenged governments to show political will in tackling the prevailing impunity for violence on media professionals in the world. Read more here

Yemen: Concerns for Wellbeing of Tortured Journalist

The Yemeni Journalists’ Syndicate (YJS), an IFJ affiliate, raised concerns over the worsening health of a kidnapped journalist who has been tortured in captivity. Editor of the online site Alislah AbdelKhalee Omran was kidnapped on 9 June 2015 by the Houthi rebels at the Dream Land Hotel in the capital, Sana’a, together with 8 other colleagues.

Omran is detained in the “political security” prison in Sana’a and, like the others, has been subject to repeated torture, a lawyer’s group which visited them in the prison reported. The journalist’s family recently told the YJS that Omran suffers from severe pain in the spine, back and that his health keeps deteriorating.

Read more here:

Journalist Attacked by Hospital Staff in Nepal

According to reports, Mithilesh Yadav, a journalist with Nagarik daily, was harassed at the Lila Mohan Hospital and Maternity Home Private Limited in Lahan of Siraha as he was reporting a dispute between hospital management and a patient’s relatives. Dhananjaya Yadav, a hospital employee, snatched his mobile and broke it while he was talking to hospital management about the dispute.

Read more here:

Prominent Cartoonist Zunar Targeted Government and Supporters in Malaysia

Popular Malaysian political cartoonist Zunar was subjected to harassfor allegedly insulting Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak following an exhibition of his works in Penang. The incident follows a long pattern of harassment against the cartoonist, including legal harassment under the country’s controversial sedition laws.

On Saturday, November 26 Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, commonly known under the pen name Zunar, was detained overnight by police for alleged sedition with an intention to insult Prime Minister Razak. According to NUJM, the cartoonist has since been released on bail.

Read more here

Police Attack Journalist during Raid on Radio in Afghanistan

Three police recruits stormed into the studio of Feroz-Koh Radio on 12 November and violently assaulted journalist Janat Meer while he was presenting a live show. The Ghor Police Chief General Ghulam Mustafa Muhsini said that the police involved have been arrested and an investigation launched. Read more here:

TV journalists Attacked in Bangladesh

A dozen people assaulted reporter Shakil Hasan and cameraperson Shahin Alam of Jamuna TV as they were reporting on the illegal polythene factories on 6 November in Dhaka. The gang, including owners of two polythene factories, also tried to burn the reporter with kerosene. Read more here.

#25N: IFJ Backs Global Call for Action on Violence against Women journalists

From Kathmandu to Buenos Aires journalists' unions took part in meetings, protests, training sessions and marches to demand an end to attacks on women journalists and for action to tackle the impunity which allows perpetrators to go unpunished.

To mark the UN Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls, the IFJ formally signed up to the campaign for an ILO Convention to stop gender-based violence at work.

Read more here

Serious Threats to Safety of Journalists ahead of December Poll in Gambia

Journalists have reported an escalation of threats and attacks on media professionals ahead of the elections in Gambia. Freelance journalist and documentary producer, Alagie Manka and journalist Yunus Salieu of the Daily Observer were arrested on Thursday 10 November and detained overnight at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) headquarters in Banjul.

Yunus Salieu and Alagi Manka were arrested by soldiers for using his phone to photograph sympathisers of the ruling APRC Party who were celebrating at President Jammeh's nomination. Yunus was released later on Friday, while Alagi Manka was still detained at the NIA headquarters. Read more here

Have Your Say

When Police Minders Doorstep Journalists: Elections – Chinese Style

China recently held local elections for the next five-year-terms during which more than 900 million voters cast their ballots to elect their local delegates. Anyone could stand as independent candidates if they were able to collect enough nominees for support, an extremely difficult undertaking. Journalists faced violence simply by attempting to talk to these wannabe candidates, even with their consent. That is what happened to BBC journalist John Sudworth in Beijing.

On November 17, John Sudworth, a BBC journalist and his crew, were trying to interview an independent candidate for the upcoming elections in Beijing. When the crew arrived at the candidate’s house, they were immediately confronted by between 20 -25 six men, who blocked the access to the house. Sudworth was eventually able to access the house and knocked on the front door. However when the candidate answered the door, the men pushed the door shut and stopped the candidate from speaking, or let the crew inside. The candidate then opened a window and tried to talk to Sudworth, but the men immediately blocked the window and forced it shut.

During the altercation, other people arrived, some wearing masks. They started manhandling Sudworth and the crew, blocking the camera and pushing them. Sudworth told the IFJ that he and his team has received a few bumps and knocks, which were maybe a bit heavier than usual but sadly not unprecedented.

John Sudworth said that this was not the first time he has experienced attacks like this, referring to a similar incident in another area when they tried to interview another independent candidate for the Beijing elections. On that occasion, the group was blocked by a police officer, who was waiting for them when they arrived for the interview.

IFJ Safety Fund Situation: Up to November 2016

The International Safety Fund of the International Federation of Journalists has paid out over 60.000 Euro in financial relief and humanitarian assistance to journalists and media staff across the globe since the start of 2016. The Fund received a donation of 450 Euro in November from SNJ members at France Télévisions.

Number of Journalists Killed in 2016

According to the IFJ statistics, at least 98 journalists and media staff have been killed in 2016 so far. They include 20 reporters and media workers who perished in the plane crash in Colombia. The victims come from 18 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. Colombia is on the list for the first time in 2016 with the plane accident.

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.