WAN-Ifra joins call for UN Convention on journalist safety

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A coalition of international organisations campaigning for the adoption of a new UN Convention dedicated to the protection of media professionals is being backed by WAN-Ifra.

The consortium includes representatives of journalists, media workers, broadcasters and newspapers from around the world.

Meeting at the UN headquarters in New York with state representatives from Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, Latin America, Asia and North America, the coalition set out the case for a new UN Convention with the objective of rectifying a gap in international law for binding norms establishing safeguards for journalists and media professionals including cameramen, photographers, technical supporting staff, drivers and interpreters, editors, translators, publishers, broadcasters, printers and distributors

The initiative was launched by the International Federation of Journalists, with a Convention drafted by international human rights expert Carmen Draghici, who is senior lecturer in law at City University in London. During the meeting in NYC, Dr Draghici said that there was a clear case for a dedicated instrument to tackle crimes against journalists as a result of the deliberate targeting of journalists and the systemic impact of attacks on media workers for citizens right to know.

Said IFJ president Philippe Leruth, "A journalist's murder simply because of his or her activity is a scandal, but a far bigger scandal is that nine out of every ten journalists' murders remain unpunished.

"The Khashoggi case, like all the others, illustrates that journalists are singled out as a target and as such they need dedicated protection".

Elena Perotti, executive director for public affairs and media policy at WAN-Ifra said that in the current international legal framework, there were no binding norms establishing safeguards for media workers specifically. "This undeniably contributes to the phenomenon of the accountability bar being reset to the lowest level by States getting away with the normalisation of a culture of violence against journalists."

Johannes Studinger, general secretary of UNI-MEI told the meeting: "Not a week goes by without us receiving reports of yet more attacks or repression against media workers. Unless there is action we fear that we will just keep talking about more and more attacks. We express our support for the IFJ initiative".

IFJ general secretary Anthony Bellanger described the meeting as "an important first step" towards securing enhanced protection for journalists and media professionals. "We welcome the support and commitment from member states and our fellow professional organisations and will continue to build a broader coalition to deliver real action on impunity".

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