UN human rights expert urges states to strengthen journalist security

GENEVA (1 November 2016) –United Nations Human right experts has urged states around the globe to strengthen journalist security.

David Kaye United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression,
urges states to bring their understanding of what security of journalists involves into line with international human rights standards and to take active steps to ensure this security.

Speaking ahead of the third International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists Kaye said “Attacks against journalists and threats to their security take various forms: attacks against their physical integrity; interference with the confidentiality of their sources; and harassment through surveillance, just to mention a few.

He said Protection against these kinds of attacks is fundamental not only for journalists to be able to perform their work, but also for society’s access to information and for government accountability.

‘’States have a positive obligation to ensure the security of journalists. All too often, however, governments express support for journalist security while taking measures that chip away at protection and thus at the information brought to light by secure reporting’’ the rapporteur said

Especially worrisome are increased threats against the digital security of journalists through measures such as mass or targeted surveillance, blocking of online media sites, and practices or laws limiting or prohibiting encryption he said

‘’The international legal framework protects the digital and physical security of journalists. The UN Human Rights Council adopted earlier this year a resolution on the safety of journalists, addressing both their physical and digital security. I have also addressed the issues of source protection and encryption in two of my previous reports’’ he said

‘’Journalists who lack digital security find themselves and their sources subject to great physical threat, and yet physical attacks continue to be met with impunity. We see national leaders using rhetoric that encourages a lack of respect for the life and work of journalists’’ Kaye added

According to the latest figures by the independent Committee to Protect Journalists, 52 journalists and media workers have been killed so far this year. In most of these cases, states do not take even the basic steps to begin to bring perpetrators to justice.

He urges all States to take steps to reverse this situation and make accountability – in law, policy and practice – a fundamental aspect of their support for journalism and the public’s access to information


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