International News Safety Institute update: September 2012
September 28, 2012 Leave a comment
It has been a black September for journalists covering dangerous stories around the world.
We count this month at least 13 casualties, in Somalia, Syria, Cambodia, Iraq and Tanzania with two more suspected killed because of their work. That’s one death almost every two days in September.
Those colleagues lost include three killed when suicide bombers blew up a restaurant frequented by journalists in Mogadishu and a citizen journalist renowned for his bravery during the Syrian revolution, burned to death by government forces who targeted his home in Hama. “He sacrificed his life to show the world what is happening in Syria,” a friend said.
We work with international organisations to strengthen safety procedures for the news media in conflicted countries and to end impunity for their killers, but we focus mainly on practical help where it is most needed.
In the past two months we have taken safety training courses to colleagues in Brazil, Nigeria, Thailand and Egypt, where we held the first-ever course for women journalists facing exceptional sexual harassment and abuse as they try to do their jobs.
Last week INSI’s Deputy Director Hannah Storm attended a regional conference for journalists in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, where she represented INSI on a safety panel and gave a safety workshop. The conference was organised by the Asia Pacific office of the International Federation of Jouranlists and UNI Mei, the global union for media, entertainment and arts, and brought together journalists and media workers from across south and south-east Asia to share their experiences of the challenges they face in their regions, of which safety is one of the key issues.
Writing for INSI’s blog at the end of the conference, Storm observed: “We spend a lot of time in this business talking numbers, and even though it’s shocking to realise we are heading for one of the darkest years in journalism with almost one hundred media practitioners killed so far this year, we rarely have the chance to hear – and really think – about the remarkable stories behind those numbers.”
Closer to home, we were able to discuss further the latest challenges to safety across the globe, when we held our bi-annual meeting of INSI’s News Safety group. Attended by some 20 senior members of the news industry based in London, the meeting which INSI coordinates brought together those responsible for making decisions at major news organisations and discussed the challenges and threats facing their news crews and teams in the past few months.
We have again activated our news safety forum exchange of realtime on-ground information to help colleagues in Syria, still by far the most dangerous place in the world for journalists today.
And we helped renowned neuropsychiatrist Anthony Feinstein conduct a unique study into trauma suffered by journalists in Mexico, for years the bloodiest country for the news media in the western hemisphere. He discovered journalists in peacetime Mexico covering the activities of terrorist drug lords suffered levels of traumatic stress similar to those experienced by war correspondents.
All of this is the true high price of our world news. And it doesn’t seem to be getting any less.
Focusing on the deadly situation in Somalia, Shamshul Bari, an expert on human rights in Somalia, said in a report to the Human Rights Council in Geneva last Wednesday that the government must investigate the killings and bring the perpetrators to justice.
And he added, for the benefit of the 47 member states of the HRC, several of whom still don’t get it: “For journalists are the key to promotion and protection of human rights.”
INSI and its supporters and friends in the news industry will keep up efforts to help colleagues in deadly danger.
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