The President of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) , Jim Boumelha, today told an international conference entitled ‘News Organisations Standing Up for the Safety of Media Professionals’ at UNESCO in Paris that media executives and journalists’ organisations need to work together to provide journalists with protection.
M. Boumelha, who spoke at the opening of the conference, along side UNESCO Director Irina Bokova and World Editors Forum Vice-President Erik Bjerager, said that the safety crisis in journalism is the result of increasing dangers in journalism and the failure to implement international legal instruments which are meant to protect journalists, as civilians. He argued that the conference provides an opportunity for participants to agree a collective action to promote the implementation of existing legal guarantees.
“Our task today is to build the widest coalition to ensure these instruments are fought for and implemented, ” said Boumelha. “A more coherent engagement is today called for on the part of media owners, publishers and editors. And the continuing high level of media deaths cries out for more action by international institutions such as the United Nations to force governments to pay more attention to the safety crisis facing journalists and media.”
In his speech, the IFJ President referred to the report issued yesterday by the Federation on journalists and media staff killed since between 1990-2015 which recorded at least 2,297 fatalities. Besides the high levels of violence on journalists, the IFJ President denounces the rampant impunity.
“In no less than 90 percent of journalist murders worldwide, there has been little or no prosecution whatsoever,” noted M. Boumelha pointing out these killings which target mainly local journalists rarely make headline news unless the victims are well-know journalists.
The one-day conference, which was convened jointly by the IFJ and WAN-IFRA with the support of the UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC), brought together senior journalists, editors and media owners from around the world who debated on a range of safety issues including the best newsroom practices, ending impunity together, safety for community, regional and local media as well as safety for freelancers and social media producers.
The IFJ President will take part in the follow-up with meeting to be held in Paris Saturday 6 February to agree on ways to take forward the work of promoting the safety of journalists based on the discussion at today’s conference.