HRC / 24th Session, Joint Statement on the Safety of Journalists - item 3
Joint Statement on the Safety of Journalists
I have the honor to address the Human Rights Council on behalf of 73 countries from all regions:
Albania, Algeria, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Columbia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, East-Timor, Ecuador, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Republic of Korea, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Maldives, Malta, Mexico, Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Palestine, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Rwanda, San Marino, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America, Uruguay;
Last year marks the most dramatic year on record regarding the killings of journalists. More than 100 killings have been recorded in 2012. Not only is the killing of journalists of great concern, but the exercise of their work also often exposes journalists at a whole range of other human rights violations, such as torture, enforced disappearance, arbitrary arrest and detention, legal and physical harassment as well as human rights abuses. The report of the OHCHR on the safety of journalists presented at this session indicates that in 2012 around 900 journalists were arrested, 2000 were threatened or physically attacked and 40 were kidnapped. In 2013, more than 50 journalists have already been killed because of their profession. What is most worrying is that in more than 90% of the reported cases, no investigations or legal procedures have been undertaken; perpetrators act with impunity.
The adoption by consensus of the first resolution on the safety of journalists by the Human Rights Council last September has sent a strong political signal and can be regarded as an important milestone. The unanimous support that the resolution has received from states of all regions was indeed very encouraging. However, the disquieting evidence of the scale and number of attacks against the physical safety of journalists as well as of incidents affecting their ability to exercise freedom of expression clearly demonstrate that much more needs to be done.
Freedom of expression is a universal human right. Therefore, each state must provide the conditions for a safe environment that enables journalists to perform their work independently and without any interference. The good practices presented in the report of the OHCHR on the safety of journalists indicate that unequivocal political commitment supported by clear and effective legislative and practical safeguards to prevent attacks and threats against journalists are the key elements of an effective approach to the protection of journalists.
The ability of the state to protect journalists is inextricably linked to the extent that there is general appreciation of the importance of freedom of expression, online as well as offline, the enabling legislation is in place, the rule of law prevails and the political will to protect journalists exists. We share the view of the OHCHR that a clear public position should be taken at the highest levels of government regarding the important role of journalists in society and the need to prevent and sanction violations of their rights. It is incumbent on states to ensure the safety of journalists through the implementation and enforcement of the existing international obligations and commitments.
The report also emphasizes again the serious and pervasive problem of impunity for attacks against journalists. Ensuring accountability is a key element in preventing future attacks. There need to be swift and independent investigations in accordance with international standards into any allegations of violations. Perpetrators must be held accountable.
We believe that this Council has an important role to play in promoting and protecting the safety of journalists. The report of the OHCHR also recommends the continued promotion of the issue through the Human Rights Council and related panel discussions as well as side events. We therefore believe that, as a next step, a panel discussion should be organized with a particular focus on elaborating the findings of the report of the OHCHR, identifying challenges and further developing good practices for the safety of journalists by sharing information on initiatives undertaken to protect them.
I thank you!