Human Rights Reporters Need Greater Protection, Says UN Expert
UNITED NATIONS, Geneva -- Recent global events have highlighted the fact that journalists and media workers reporting on human rights issues are particularly vulnerable to threats and attacks, an independent United Nations expert said yesterday, calling for greater protection for those who carry out such vital work.
the potential impact on society that journalists and media workers can have by
disseminating information about human rights through a wide array of media,
those individuals are often threatened, wounded and killed in an attempt to
silence their voices,” stated Margaret Sekaggya, the UN Special Rapporteur on
the situation of human rights defenders.
is of extreme importance in holding Governments accountable. However, those
same Governments often crack down on them, including through threats,
harassment, arrests, detentions, and in the worst of cases killings,” she added
in a report
submitted to the UN Human Rights Council, which is currently meeting in Geneva.
on media and press freedom, and impunity around violations against journalists
and media workers defending human rights can foster a climate of intimidation,
stigmatization, violence and self-censorship that can have a chilling effect on
their work, according to the expert.
should publically recognize the role of these defenders and ensure prompt and
impartial investigations and the prosecution of those responsible for
violations against them,” she wrote.
her report to the 47-member Council earlier today, Ms. Sekaggya said the ‘Arab
Spring’ helped focus global attention on the extraordinary risks rights
defenders face while promoting and protecting human rights in all regions of
expressed deep concern that State actors, including Government officials, State
security forces and the judiciary, are reportedly the perpetrators of many of
the violations committed against these defenders.
environmental, student and youth rights defenders and those working on land
issues are in significant need of protection,” she told the Council. “Most of
these risks directly affect their physical integrity and that of their family
members, but also involve the abusive use of legal frameworks against them and
the criminalization of their work.”
protests in countries across the Middle East and North Africa have also shed
light on the situation of defenders of youth and student rights. “History shows
us that youth and students have played a key role in the promotion of human
rights and in placing new ideas on the human rights agenda.
members of youth and student movements are in many cases seen as troublemakers
rather than serious actors who can fruitfully contribute to public debate,” she
said. “Their voices deserve to be heard, and they should not be threatened as a
result of their engagement.”
also highlighted the plight of defenders working on land and environmental
issues, such as the impact of extractive industries. In her report, she noted
that both State and non-State actors are involved in violations against this
group of defenders, and underlines the disturbing number of killings and
physical attacks reported to her.
rights defenders have the right to protection, and it is the State’s
responsibility to ensure this protection, so that defenders can carry out their
important and legitimate work in an enabling environment,” she underscored.
UN News Centre
Tracker: past stories on this issue
forum hears calls for greater protection of journalists
Published by: Magne Ove Varsi