Safety of Journalists > Blog > 2nd Issue of IFJ Focus on Safety

2nd Issue of IFJ Focus on Safety

07 January 2015

Welcome to the second issue of IFJ ‘Focus on Safety’, the monthly blog posting which provides highlights, news and in-depth analysis about safety-related events of concern to journalists.

This is part of IFJ strategy on the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity. We welcome your feedback, experiences in the field and any stories you may wish to share with members of the global journalists’ community.

The present issue covers the following:

IFJ Posts List of 135 Journalists and Media Staff Killed in 2014

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today said that 118 journalists and media staff were killed in work-related targeted or cross fire incidents in 2014, an increase of 13 killings from last year. 17 more died in road and natural disasters accidents while on assignments.

According to the IFJ's 24th annual list, Asia Pacific had the highest death toll with 35 killings, making it the most dangerous region for journalists and media staff in the world for the second year running. The Middle East comes in the second position with 31 fatalities, followed by the Americas on a tally of 26. Africa is forth with 17 killings and Europe finishes at 9 violent deaths.

The IFJ says that the ongoing vicious wars in Syria, Iraq and Ukraine as well as the violent insurgency in Pakistan and Afghanistan account for many killings targeting journalists. Pakistan ranks as the most dangerous country with 14 journalists killed, followed by Syria where 12 lost their lives to violence. Afghanistan and Palestine recorded 9 killings each while eight journalists were killed in Iraq and Ukraine.


Safety Training for Journalists in Kurdistan Region of Iraq

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its local affiliate the Kurdistan Journalists Syndicate are organizing a three-day safety training for local journalists in the city of Shikhan of the Kurdistan region of Iraq.

The training, which ran from 18- 20 December and was conducted by the IFJ Safety Trainer in Kurdistan, discussed many aspects of safety and introduced 26 journalists to life saving skills to minimize the risks they may face in the course of their work.

The training forms part of the IFJ programme developed in recent years, based on a number of practical competencies that explores personal security, operational planning, security of accommodation and workplace, movements in conflict zones, ballistic threats, kidnaps and special risks, riots and public disorder.


IFJ/EFJ Condemn Mass Arrest of Turkish Journalists

The International Federation of Journalists and its regional group, the European Federation of Journalists, today condemned the shock raid on Zaman newspaper and Samanyolu TV media resulting in the arrest of at least 31 persons including journalists and media executives.

Among the 31 people arrested, there were 4 journalists, 11 media workers (scriptwriters, producers and technical advisors) and 16 police officers, according to the last update.

The police raids took place on Sunday morning, targeting media said to be close to Fethullah Gûllen, the US-based cleric whose supporters have been allegedly working against the Erdogan government.


IFJ Slams Pakistan over Withdrawal of Protection from Journalist under Threat

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) denounced the decision by the Punjab Police authorities to withdraw police protection the senior leader of the IFJ affiliate, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), in Lahore, Pakistan. The IFJ expressed grave concern for his safety after new threats were made to his life.

Rana M. Azeem, the Lahore-based PFUJ president, has received threats to his life from unknown people after Punjab Police withdrew security they were providing him following similar threats inSeptember. The PFUJ believes that the withdrawal of the police protection to Azeem is a result of the protest against the Punjab Police for arresting journalists of ARY TV doing sting operation.


IFJ Urges Opposition Leader to Call for End to Attacks on Media in Pakistan

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has urged Imran Khan, the leader of one of Pakistan’s opposition parties, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), to stop attacks against journalists during the PTI demonstrations against the government.

In a letter to the politician, the IFJ Asia Pacific expressed serious concerns over the ongoing and repeated incidents of violence and abuses against journalists and media workers in Pakistan – in particular surrounding the political demonstrations organized by Khan’s party.

Listing a few recent incidents of harassments and attacks on journalists, the IFJ has asked Khan to make an unconditional public apology and to refrain from making statements that are further inflaming the attacks.


IFJ and FAJ Welcomes African Court’s Landmark Decision in Favour of Freedom of Expression

In a landmark decision on defamation law by the African Court on Human and Peoples Rights’ struck down a conviction of Burkinabe journalist Issa Lohé Konaté who was jailed for 12 having “accused a public prosecutor of corruption.”

In a binding decision which sets a precedent for all African states, the court on 5 December ordered Burkina Faso to amend its law on defamation.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the African Federation of Journalists (FAJ) welcomed the decision and called on all African state to repeal the defamation laws and free all journalists held under such laws.


IFJ and EFJ Join Council of Europe Partnership on Online Safety Platform for Journalists:

On 4 December 2014, the International Federation of Journalists and the European Federation of Journalists signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Council of Europe to promote the protection and safety of journalists.

The signing ceremony took place at a conference jointly organised by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and the French Senate at the Palais du Luxembourg, in Paris. Three other press freedom organisations, Reporters Without Borders (RWB), Article 19 and the Association of European Journalists (AEJ) also signed the memorandum.

The online platform will feature "alerts" posted by Council of Europe’s trusted media freedom partner agencies on a public, centralized online platform when individual journalists are in danger or their work is under threat. Such an early warning system should open the way for swift reactions from international organizations which uphold media freedom standards, such as the Council of Europe, OSCE Media Freedom Representative, EU and UN.

Alerts will include factual information - vetted by the partners - on physical threats to journalists, bloggers or writers, as well as their sources, invasions of privacy or judicial intimidation of journalists through abusive use of laws on defamation, national security, or extremism. The platform would also show action taken by the Council of Europe in response, as well as regular reports and the comments of the member States concerned.


Have Your Say :

A Lucky Escape: Journalist Survives Murder Attempt in Ivory Coast by Skin of Teeth

We like to hear from you and please feel free to send us your safety experiences. In this issue, we wish to share the story of an Ivorian investigative journalist who cheated death on 12 December 2014.

Antoine Assalé Tiémoko, the managing editor of l’Elephan déchainé, the only investigative newspaper in Ivory Coast and presenter of a radio programme entitled ‘Allo Presse’, is a lucky man. He rather considers himself a blessed man, as he confesses to being a believer. He has every reason to feel that way, after surviving an attempted murder on the morning of 12 December 2014. The newspaper’s investigative reporting earned him a fierce reputation and made him enemies. The journalist says that there had been attempts to bribe him which, when rebuffed, turned into threats.

For over a year, Tiémoko had been receiving threats over the phone, some threatening to kill him, including one occasion when the caller made an explicit death threat which was reported to the authorities and, despite assurances that the person would be arrested, no action was taken. Others gave details of his family members, down to the precise age of his children, making him believe that his family was also in danger. These, too, were reported without any follow up. He believes that there are people who want to kill him and stop his investigations into corruption. But, he had never physically attacked until that fateful morning of last December. Here is his story, translated from French and edited for the purpose of the present publication:

“I left home around 6:30 in the morning and was walking to my office which is nearby, as I do every time before going on air as a way of exercising a little bit. I was walking on the pavement and stopped at the office of the national water company with my headsets on as I was listening to RFI morning news. That was when I noticed a 4x4 vehicle with two people on board, which I had no heard because of the headsets, speeding towards me from behind on the pavement. The streets are usually quiet in my area at that time of the morning. By sheer luck – but as a believer, I prefer to say by the grace of God- I managed to avoid being hit by jumping slightly backwards with both my hands on the front of the car. In so doing, I lost balance and strained my left ankle and felt excruciating pain. Having missed its target, the car sped ahead, probably so that I could not take down the number plate. [..] Despite the painful ankle, I crossed the street [..] but realised the vehicle had also turned around. I then hid behind a parked car, making it difficult for my attackers to reach me without either hitting the parked car or stepping outside their own. As they pulled up alongside the car which was basically shielding me, they abruptly turned hard right, narrowly missing the parked car and drove on towards the area where my office is located. Their car slowed down, trying to get a quick exit out of the area and I was able to take down the vehicle’s number plate. After the car had disappeared and I had recovered from the shock, I took a taxi because of the pain at the ankle to the office and presented the programme without making any reference to the incident. Afterwards, I visited a clinic when a scan revealed no serious damage to my ankle. The pain was due to the traumatic shock. People are trying to kill me and make it look as a normal road accident because the use of arms would be controversial and cause a lot of noise.”