A draft action plan aimed at better protecting the safety of journalists has been adopted by representatives taking part in a UN forum in Paris. The UN action plan will “ensure that crimes committed against them [journalists] do not go unpunished”.
The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) say that more than 500 media professionals have been killed in the last ten years. UNESCO also state that “many more have been assaulted, abducted, sexually violated, intimidated, harassed, arrested or illegally detained”.
According to figures from the Committee to Protect Journalists, 27 journalists have been killed this year, and many others are either missing or imprisoned. A 2010 census from CPJ shows that 145 journalists are imprisoned worldwide; statistics on the CPJ website also detail cases of missing journalists.
The UN say that many of those targeted are local journalists working close to home and often no one is punished for the crimes committed against them.
The UN action plan could see the setting up of a “coordinated inter-agency mechanism to handle issues connected to the safety of journalists and impunity”. The draft plan also proposes other measures that aim to better protect journalists and will include an awareness-raising campaign. The proposal will be put before UNESCO's International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) in March 2012.
Today, concern has been expressed about the safety of journalists in Peru after two journalists were killed in Peru in separate incidents this month. In a press release issued by the UN, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, said:
“This is important, lest violence and fear reduce media professionals’ ability to do their job. Fear and insecurity prevent journalists from providing society with the free and independent information needed to sustain the open and informed debate that is the hallmark of any democracy.”