Media community concerned over attacks on journalists

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Pakistani journalists

KARACHI: The world media community has condemned killings and ‘other forms of oppression of journalists’ and expressed dismay at the failure of many governments to bring the killers to justice. It said ineffectiveness of the United Nations resolutions on the safety of newsmen was disappointing.

In a statement issued after a symposium of global media community held in London last week, representatives of 40 media organisations as well as associations and journalist bodies welcomed the UN Plan of Action on the “safety of journalists and issue of impunity”, but expressed ‘strong concern’ over delay in execution of the plan.

“We, members of the global media community, condemn all cases of killing and other physical attacks, intimidation, harassment, abduction and wrongful imprisonment as well as other forms of oppression of journalists and other media workers,” a statement issued after the meeting said.

The symposium on “Media Responses to Matters of Life and Death” was organised by the Centre for Freedom of the Media, University of Sheffield, and the BBC College of Journalism. The symposium was organised ahead of the second UN Inter-Agency meeting on “the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity” to be held in Vienna on Nov 22 and 23.

Organised by Unesco, the UN meeting will be co-hosted by the United Nations Development Programme, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

The London symposium called upon the UN agencies to take stock of its proposals in its upcoming UN inter-agency meeting and also stressed upon other national and international bodies to try to persuade member states to create a safe environment for journalists.

“Affirm that the right of journalists and media workers to work free from harm, harassment and abuse is fundamental to freedom of expression and therefore a matter of urgent and legitimate concern for governments and societies around the world as well as the news media themselves,” said the statement.

TRAINING & INSURANCE: The statement incorporated three proposals, two of them forwarded by Dawn, urging media organisations to train as well as provide insurance cover to their staff. It also urged the United Nations to pursue investigations into crimes against journalists in different countries.

“The Unesco should require member states to provide yearly reports on the progress of investigations into journalists’ killings,” the statement said quoting from one of Dawn’s proposals. “Media houses are encouraged to provide proper safety training and insurance to all staff, stringers and associated personnel.”

The statement was signed by representatives of 40 media organisations as well as associations and journalist bodies. Five senior professionals from different media organisations and universities also signed the document in their ‘personal capacity’.

The signatories included editors of The Guardian, The Times as well as senior editors of Al Jazeera and Sky News. The symposium advised media organisations to monitor actions of their governments, judicial authorities and other institutions for implementing the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and Issue of Impunity.

“It proposes that the acute concerns of the news media for meaningful and practical actions are fully and seriously taken into account at the UN Inter-Agency Meeting being held in Vienna in November and thereafter in the effective implementation of the UN Plan,” the statement added.

Pakistan Press Foundation

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