En­hance me­dia safety

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY -

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.

STRENGTH­EN­ING MECH­A­NISMS

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

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