The United Nations (UN) Security Council recently held an open debate on the protection of journalists. This is part of the UN’s drive to implement resolution 1738 and improve the protection of journalists on the ground, Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF) said last week.
The UN’s ‘ambitious’ move comes at the time when the killing, detention and harassment of journalists, especially in zones of conflict, have reached all time high worldwide.
The New York-based world organisation has often been accused of turning a blind eye on the massacre of journalists, by refusing to intervene for fear of jeopardising its ‘frank and cordial’ relations with government-killers of journalists.
But now the situation appears to be taking another turn.
RSF executive director Christophe Deloire said: “Since Resolution 1738 was unanimously adopted by the Security Council condemning intentional attacks against journalists in conflict situations, the level of violence against journalists and citizen-journalists is increasing.
“With 89 journalists killed in connection with their work, 2012 has been the deadliest year for journalists since RSF began producing an annual roundup in 1995”.
Further steps to enhance the implementation of resolution 1738 are needed more than ever, RSF, which worked very closely with France on the draft and adoption of resolution 1738 in 2006, urged.
Resolution 1738 already requires states to protect journalists and combat impunity for those responsible for physical attacks against journalists, RSF said.
However, the UN, an organisation often criticised for its ‘double standards’ and ‘soft stance’ to take bold action when it really matters, has seen many of its resolutions overlooked, thrown in the bin and just swept under the carpet by the same member states it so dearly cherishes.
Delore agrees: “The problem is not a legal void, but the lack of any verification of respect by member states for their obligations.”
It is in this spirit that RSF wants concrete action from the UN to ensure that Resolution 1738 does not become another forgotten piece of paper. RSF is now asking the UN Security Council to seek the creation of a group of independent experts tasked with monitoring respect for UN Security Council.
Deloire regrets that by simply covering the plight of their fellow citizens and reporting abuses by leading officials, journalists expose themselves to the possibility of very violent reprisals.
On the basis of its experience, the international media watcdog recommends that the following steps be taken in order to protect journalists:
• Establish effective monitoring for states’ respect of their obligations
• Extend member states’ obligations to non-professional “news providers”
• Extend member states’ obligations beyond armed conflict situations
• Reaffirm member states’ obligations to protect foreign exiled news providers
Photo: CIF Watch