Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire will take part in a special United Nations Security Council meeting in New York today on the subject of “Protecting Journalists.” Deloire will present RWB’s recommendations for improving international legal provisions for the protection of journalists and their implementation. Guatemalan permanent representative Gert Rosenthal and French permanent representative Gérard Araud are to co-host this “Arria format” meeting. The other scheduled participants are UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova, International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, Thomson Reuters investigative journalist David Rohde, UN special rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression Frank La Rue, and Radio France Internationale’s Washington bureau chief Anne-Marie Capomaccio.
“The seventh anniversary of Security Council Resolution 1738 on the protection of journalists in armed conflict will be on 23 December,” Deloire said before the meeting. “A UN Plan of Action on protecting journalists was launched in April 2012. And the General Assembly adopted a resolution on the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity by consensus on 26 November. “Nonetheless, the figures show that the safety of journalists and other news providers has deteriorated. A total of 88 journalists were killed in connection with their work in 2012, the worse figure since Reporters Without Borders began compiling its annual round-up in 1995. “We intend to tackle the Security Council’s members and the UN in general about the importance of protecting journalists and to remind member states of their obligations to prevent acts of violence against them and combat impunity for those responsible.” Reporters Without Borders is calling for tougher measures to combat impunity. “The resolution adopted by the General Assembly calls on member states to conduct ‘impartial, speedy and effective investigations’ into violence against journalists and to ‘bring the perpetrators of such crimes to justice,’ so it is essential that the Security Council itself should address this issue,” Deloire said. RWB believes that the beneficiaries of the provisions specified in the resolutions should be explicitly extended to include all “news providers,” that is say, not only professional journalists but also bloggers and all non-professional journalists who gather and circulate news and information. Additionally, RWB wants Article 8 of the International Criminal Court’s statute to be amended so that “deliberate attacks on journalists, media workers and associated personnel” are defined as war crimes. It is also recommending the creation of a group of independent experts or a monitoring group attached to the UN secretariat as an operational measure to ensure better implementation of international law on the protection of journalists. The UN secretary-general has to devote part of his report on the protection of civilians during armed conflict to the safety of journalists but this is not enough to ensure properly monitoring and combat impunity. The proposed group’s duties would include monitoring member states’ compliance with their obligation to prosecute cases of violence against journalists impartially and effectively. Finally, there is still no appropriate mechanism for protecting news providers and human rights defenders who are forced to flee their country. Reporters Without Borders, which supports hundreds of exile journalists every year, is therefore urging the UN and member states to promote procedures for protecting and resettling news providers and human rights defenders who are in danger in transit countries. And Reporters Without Borders is calling for the creation of a special alert mechanism and a designated referral officer within each local office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights so that cases of journalists and human rights defenders who are in particular danger can be identified and addressed quickly.