Enhance media safety
THE EDITOR, Sir:
JAMAICA HAS consistently ranked high on the World Press Freedom Index published by the press freedom group Reporters Without Borders. In 2016, we were listed 10th, ahead of countries like Germany, Canada and Australia, and were the highest ranked in the Caribbean.
We cannot, however, ignore that this is not the reality for thousands of our colleagues around the world.
Reporters Without Borders reports that 787 journalists and media personnel have been killed while exercising their profession over the last 10 years. In 2015 alone, 67 journalists were murdered across the world.
The role of journalists in a democratic society is undeniable. No society can claim to be truly democratic without a free press. The job of journalists in informing the public and acting as a watchdog for government is unquestionably of critical importance.
It is against this background that the Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) has joined the campaign started by Reporters Without Borders for the appointment of a special representative to the UN secretary general for the safety of journalists. The PAJ, at its last annual general meeting, unanimously passed a resolution supporting the call for this appointment.
The PAJ is now calling for the Government of Jamaica to support this initiative within the corridors and halls of power in the United Nations.
Ten years ago, in S/RES/1738 the Security Council, inter alia, condemned “intentional attacks against journalists, media professionals and associated personnel, as such, in situations of armed conflict” and called upon all parties to put an end to such practices. In 2010, the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity was endorsed by the UN Chief Executives Board.
Its proposals include strengthening mechanisms within UN agencies to combat impunity towards attacks on journalists; working with member states to formulate legislation, and take an active role to prevent attacks against journalists; increasing awareness among member states of the importance of freedom of the press; and encouraging safety initiatives such as health and life insurance, safety training programmes, and adequate remuneration for media workers.
However, more is needed. The appointment of a special representative to the UN secretary general for the safety of journalists to push for action on this important issue would be very important in helping to ensure implementation of the Plan for the Safety of Journalists. It would be a strong signal pressing governments to end impunity for the murder of, and other attacks against journalists and other media workers.
The Press Association of Jamaica will be writing to Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister Senator Kamina Johnson-Smith during National Journalism Week to urge support for this important initiative. DIONNE JACKSON-MILLER President, Press Association of Jamaica