Safety of Journalists > Blog > ​3rd Issue of IFJ Focus on Safety: January 2015

​3rd Issue of IFJ Focus on Safety: January 2015

03 February 2015

Welcome to the third 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:


The attack on the offices of the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo on 7 January 2015, sent shock waves through the global journalists’ community, still reeling from the grim death toll of 2014. The attack, the worst ever recorded in Western Europe, left seven journalists, three media workers and two policemen dead in a day of violence on the streets of Paris.

The victims included the magazine’s Director, Stéphane Charbonnier who was already living under police protection after receiving death threats, and three well-known cartoonists Jean Cabut aka Cabu, Bernard Verlhac aka Tignous and Georges Wolinski.

The International Federation and its regional group the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) led the mobilisation to condemn the attacks and support Charlie Hebdo’s journalists.

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Check out the flicker gallery for images about events organised in the aftermath of the Paris killings here

UNESCO Discusses Journalists’ Safety after Charlie Attack

The International Federation of Journalists took part in a one-day conference organised by UNESCO on 14 January 2015 in Paris to debate the safety of journalists after the attack on Charlie Hebdo. The IFJ stressed the importance all parties to conflicts to respect the status of journalists as civilians. It also highlighted governments’ obligation under international law to protect journalists, including by preventing acts of violence and investigating them as a way of eradicating impunity for violence on media.

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Report into Ampatuan Massacre: Five Years On

The International Federation of Journalists and its affiliate the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) published a report ‘entitled ‘Ampatuan Massacre: Five Years On’ The report contains the findings of the International Solidarity Mission to the Philippines in November last year to mark the fifth anniversary of the Ampatuan Massacre in 2009. The key finding in the report is that to date, not a single killer has been convicted and at least four witnesses have been killed with the trial of 193 suspects expected to drag out for many years.

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IFJ and -UNESCO to Develop Safety Training Course at Universities in Middle East

The IFJ and UNESCO – Beirut Office are collaborating on a project to develop a safety course to be taught at universities in the Arab World and Middle East, in cooperation with the Jordanian Media Institute (JMI) and the Jordanian Press Association.

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Sri Lanka to Reopen Investigation into Murder of Lasantha Wickrematunge

The new government in Sri Lanka has announced its decision to reopen investigations into the murder of Lasantha Wickrematunge, the editor of The Sunday Leader, who was killed in 2009.

Reports said that decision to reopen the investigation came after a former cabinet minister publicly accused former Defence minister Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, the brother of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, of ordering the assassination of Wickrematunge.

Wickrematunge was the recipient posthumously of the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize in 2009 on the nomination of the International Federation of Journalists.

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Mexico Investigates Mayor for Murder of Journalist Moisés Sánchez Cerezo

Prosecutors in Mexico have announced that they are investigating Omar Cruz, the mayor of Medellin, a small town in the state of Velacruz, for the murder of Moisés Sánchez Cerezo. The journalist, who owned and edited La Unión, went missing on 2 January 2015 and his body was found weeks later.

The authorities told reporters that a former policeman confessed to his involvement in the journalist's murder and indicated where his body was. He reportedly accused the deputy head of the local police in the town of Medellin, Martin Lopez Meneses, of killing Sanchez the day he was abducted. Meneses also happened to be the official driver of the city mayor, Omar Cruz whom prosecutors suspected of being the master minder of Sanchez's murder.

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The IFJ conducted a fact-finding mission to Mexican state of Guerrero and met with journalists, state officials and civil society to call for an end to impunity for violence against journalists. Read more

‘Deadly Ambush’ Kills Five Journalists in South SUDAN

Five journalists were among eleven people who died in an ambush incident against a convoy of a South Sudanese official in Raja county, Western Bahr al Ghazal state, according to media reports quoting the state governor Rizik Zakaria. The journalists worked for state media in South Soudan, including South Soudan TV and Radio Raja.

They wereMusa Mohamed Dahiya (Abu-Kalam), Radio Raja Director, the station's journalists MsRanda George,AdamJuma Adamand MsDalia Markotogether with cameramanButrous Martinwho worked for South Soudan TV.

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Have Your Say: Dodging the Bullet

We like to hear from you on your experiences in the field. Please feel free to send us stories of incidents that happened to you which you wish to share with colleague within the IFJ. This issue features the incident which almost cost the life of a Pakistani photojournalist. He owes his life in no small way to the solidarity of his colleagues.

Asif Hassan is a photographer for AFP in Karachi. On 16 January, he was covering the protest against the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed by the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, just over a week after the attack on its offices in Paris. The Protest in Karachi was organised by the student wing of Islami Jamiat-e-Talba(IJT), a religious party. Here is his story, published in The Express Tribune of Pakistan on 30 January 2015.

Hassan remembered how he was not even scheduled to cover the IJT on January 16. “The demonstration was planned suddenly and I was at the press club when the other photographers told me about it,” he told The Express.

He was standing on top of the protesters’ truck at Teen Talwar and was taking pictures as they marched towards the French consulate in Bath Island. Suddenly, the area turned into a battlefield. The protesters started pelting stones at the police, who retaliated with tear gas and water cannon. Then, the firing started, he recalled, adding that he and his colleagues tried to get close to the police who were standing near the water cannon.

One of his colleagues shouted that he was struck with a rock. Seconds later, Hassan also felt being hit by a rock when a bullet hit him from behind. “I was conscious and walked over to the police van to take me to the hospital since there was no ambulance there,” he said. “The police officer refused and that is when I lost my strength. I fainted but I came back around quickly.”

His fellow photographers came out to help him. They carried him to the vehicle of a news channel and rushed to Jinnah hospital.The Associated Pressphotographer, Farooq, kept talking to him throughout the journey.

The doctors operated on him as soon as he arrived and managed to remove the bullet. He was prescribed a month’s bed rest.

The entire ordeal has, however, not broken Hassan’s resolve to work. “I used to be out all the time and now I feel I am in a jail,” he said, smiling. Hassan felt he will return to work with even more passion even though his family is insisting he give up journalism.

“I will be more cautious now,” he admitted. “I will wear a helmet and a bulletproof jacket whenever I go cover protests now.”

The IFJ strongly recommends that journalists take the necessary precautions while covering demonstrations likely to turn violent. Please click here for IFJ safety tips for such assignments.