The International Federation of Journalists Safety Fund was established in January 1992 and has become internationally recognised as an important and crucial source of support for journalists under threat.
It is the only international assistance fund for journalists established by journalists.The Safety Fund is an integral part of the IFJ Safety Programmes which include casework, protests, campaigns, provision of information and production of various publications.
As the Safety Fund provides immediate financial relief to a particular journalist, the Safety Programme strives all year round to highlight and improve the plight of all journalists.
The IFJ, through its Safety Fund, continued to help pay hospital bills of injured journalists, supported exiled journalists and contributed to legal costs in court actions to defend journalists in countries where often poverty and social conflict make it impossible for them to have proper legal representation.
The IFJ International Safety Fund covers the following areas of assistance:
• The IFJ Safety Fund is designed primarily to provide assistance for journalists and media staff who are injured in the line of duty, often in the so-called “hot-spots” of the world and in cases where the media employing the journalist/media staffer are unable to cover such costs. This assistance can be in the form of travel, medical or subsistence costs.
• The Safety Fund can also be used on a case by-case limited basis to assist in legal fees for journalists/media staff that again cannot find sufficient support from their employer.
• Finally, the Safety Fund can provide immediate assistance for the families of journalists and media staff whose ‘bread-winner’ has been killed and who have no means to sustain themselves.
Whenever the IFJ gives assistance there is a monitoring and reporting process to ensure that the money goes to where it is intended.
Over the years the IFJ Safety Fund has been used to produce publications as part of the IFJ Safety Programmes. These have included the IFJ Safety Fund brochures produced in English, French Japanese and Spanish and the IFJ Safety Manual, Live News (see Press Freedom and Safety at www.ifj.org) for journalists travelling to conflict areas.
Live News has been produced in Albanian, Arabic, Bulgarian, Chinese, English, French, Italian, Japanese, Macedonian, Romanian, Russian, Serbian and Spanish. A new and up to date version of Live News will be published in 2013.
These publications provide basic guidelines on the dangers which may occur, and what measures journalists can take to minimise risks. They are distributed to journalists free of charge.
When a journalist is attacked, everyone in journalism is affected. When a journalist is helped to overcome intimidation and violence it strikes a blow for press freedom and our rights which are of benefit to the whole community.
The Safety Fund is not just a practical source of aid and comfort; it is also a symbol of international goodwill that encourages journalists to carry on even in times of struggle and distress.
The type of relief provided by the IFJ Safety Fund, the speed with which it can be used, and the flexibility built into the system means that it is a unique source of solidarity for journalists.
The IFJ does not try to duplicate work that is being done by others. We are in regular contact with other organisations working in the field of journalists’ safety and freedom of expression. These include the Committee to Protect Journalists, the International Press Institute, Reporters Without Borders, the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, the Writers in Prison Committee, the Rory Peck Trust and the World Association of Newspapers.
Information is exchanged, and, where necessary, an individual may receive coordinated assistance from more than one source.
Nonetheless, without the IFJ Fund, many would have gone unaided. Some may have suffered unnecessarily, others might have died.