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National mechanisms for journalist safety not enough – Press Emblem Campaign

Geneva-based NGO says ensuring accountability for crimes committed against journalists is a key element in preventing future attacks

The Press Emblem Campaign called for a “more robust international instrument” to deal with the growing problem of attacks on journalists worldwide.

National mechanisms “are not enough when circumstances do not permit a thorough inquiry and when the judiciary is not independent,” the NGO said in a statement.

The PEC welcomed a new report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the safety of journalists. The report was presented to the Human Rights Council on Thursday.

Founded in 2004 by a group of journalists from several countries, the Geneva-based PEC is an NGO with special consultative UN status.

It was founded to strengthen the legal protection and safety of journalists in zones of conflict and civil unrest or in dangerous missions. The PEC is in favor of a new international convention to improve the protection of media. It has the support of around 50 NGOs and journalists’ associations in the world.

It agreed with the report’s conclusions that there were “notable achievements” in addressing the issue of safety of journalists at international, regional and national levels. However, it also pointed out that “attacks on journalists are increasing, raising legitimate questions about the impact of these mechanisms at all levels”.

The report referred to one of the council’s resolutions, which pointed out that impunity for attacks and violence against journalists constituted one of the greatest challenges to their safety and ensuring accountability for crimes committed against journalists was a key element in preventing future attacks.

It also strongly condemned the prevailing impunity and expressed grave concern that the vast majority of those crimes go unpunished, contributing to their recurrence.

During the session, a new draft resolution on the safety of journalists was prepared by Austria, Brazil, France, Greece, Morocco, Qatar and Tunisia and the PEC welcomed their efforts to improve the situation.

According to UNESCO, 68 journalists and media workers have been killed in 2018 to date. Between 2012 and 2016, UNESCO’s Director General condemned on average two assassinations per week.

The report has highlighted the need to constructively assess the impact of the UN Plan of Action and set out options for a stronger approach to go forward. The PEC urged Member States to cooperate fully with this recommendation.

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