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IFJ Safety Summit in Nuremberg Debates Media Safety Crisis

November 2, 2012

The challenge of making journalism safer in the face of ever increasing violence targeting journalists and media workers has been addressed at a high-level IFJ event.

The one-day Safety and Impunity Summit was organised on 26 October in Nuremberg, Germany, by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) in collaboration with the department of international relations of its German affiliate, DJU in Ver.di.

Opening the summit, IFJ President Jim Boumelha underscored the need for strategies to tackle violence against journalists which go beyond the usual protests against such attacks. He warned that the current situation is not just a threat to journalists' safety but also to people's right to independent and accurate information.

"Too many journalists continue to lose their lives for covering their communities and countries in peace time," said Boumelha. "People all over the world have a right to uncensored information, and press freedom is an important human right. However, there are some who feel threatened by independent journalism and who do not hesitate to kill journalists."

The debates covered a wide range of topics including the alarming rates of journalists' killings, the need to provide adequate training programmes to media professionals and the strategies to ensure governments implement legal instruments designed to protect journalists.

A new IFJ strategy on safety and human rights was extensively debated while invited experts shared their organisations' contributions on journalists' protection and identified areas of potential cooperation with the IFJ. Sylvie Coudray, UNESCO Chief of Section of Freedom of Expression presented the recently adopted UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. She also told the meeting of plans by UNESCO to increase the pressure on governments to prevent and punish attacks on journalists.

Dorothea Krimitsas, deputy head of public relations of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), welcomed the opportunity to cooperate with the IFJ on helping journalists in danger. She indicated that the ICRC hotline is available to journalists and media workers in times of crisis. Further joint actions will be carried out by both organisations to work towards a safer environment for media workers. This is likely to include raising more awareness about the hotline as well as educating journalists regarding international humanitarian law principles as a tool to improve the safety of journalists.

Zuliana Lainez, IFJ Executive Committee and General Secretary of the Association of Journalists of Peru, discussed ways to ensure that the planning of activities to improve the safety of the profession takes into account how best to address both men and women journalists.

Professor Lorna Woods of City University led the discussion on the role of the international laws and legal mechanisms on the fight against impunity and presented the research she co-authored on this issue. Leading experts on Media Monitoring and Analysis, John Crowfoot and Christina Wille, co-director of Insecurity Insight, contributed their ideas on a new IFJ database on safety violations.

Finally, Peter Ripken, Chair of International Board of the International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN) spoke about his organisation's efforts to encourage more cities in the world to offer shelter for journalists who have fled persecution in their countries.

The recommendations from the Summit will be published in a report entitled ‘The Nuremberg Declaration' to be published soon.

For more information contact:
International Federation of Journalists
Phone: + 32 2 235 2207/203

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