The safety of journalists and the question of impunity at the center of discussions in Rabat
The safety of journalists and the question of impunity at the center of discussions in Rabat The UNESCO Office for the Maghreb, in collaboration with the Austrian Embassy, organized on Tuesday 13 September 2022 a national consultation at the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the United Nations action plan on the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity. The safety of journalists, the question of impunity and the violence they face were at the center of discussions during this consultation which took place in Rabat in the presence of specialists and media professionals from civil society, government organizations and representatives of diplomatic missions based in the capital. Mr Karim Hendili, Acting Director of the UNESCO Office for the Maghreb, opened the discussion by indicating that the development of the means of communication in recent years had brought a lot of progress in terms of access to information and quality of the latter but that this had also contributed to the increase in threats, in all their forms, against journalists. Mr. Hendili also stressed the need to raise public awareness of the importance of press freedom and the safety of journalists. Mr. Klaus Kögeler, Austrian Ambassador to Morocco, declared that “the safety of journalists is a pillar of the universal and inalienable right to freedom of expression enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of the man “. Mr. Ming Kuok Lim, Advisor for the Communication and Information Sector at the UNESCO office, then took the opportunity to indicate the three areas of intervention of the plan (Prevention of violence against journalists; Protection of journalists against Risks; Prosecution of Crimes against Journalists) as well as the six main categories of action identified (Awareness Raising; Standard Setting and Policy Development; Monitoring and Reporting; Capacity Building; Academic Research and Training coalition). Ms. Touria Souaf, renowned journalist and representative of the National Press Council (CNP) then took the floor to recall that the latter was engaged in a transformation program for the upgrading of the press sector and for the promoting the profession of journalism. The discussions then focused on the three areas of intervention of the Action Plan. Ms Fadwa Kamal, from the International Center for Journalists, during the session dedicated to the prevention of violence against journalists, focused her presentation on the essential role of education and training as tools for the prevention of violence against journalists. According to her, “we cannot talk about freedom of the media without talking about the protection of journalists. An unprotected journalist cannot cover matters that are important for the public interest”. Ms. Hanane Rihab, speaking on behalf of the National Syndicate of the Moroccan Press, took over by stating that the violence faced by journalists “may be linked to a lack of training of the police in the application of the law and the nature of the work of journalists”. “This may also be due to the journalist’s lack of training in relation to the limits to be respected when covering an event likely to experience tensions leading to the use of violence. she added. During the second session devoted to the protection of journalists against risks, Mr. Sami El Moudni, of the Moroccan Forum of Young Journalists, particularly insisted on the fact that the economic and financial security of journalists was essential for effective protection. Indeed Mr. El Moudni finds it regrettable that the minimum salary for journalists in the written and digital press is only $600 a month. Mr. Yassine Aabbar, from the Citizen Initiative Association, closed the session by pleading for a legal framework specific to the associative media to ensure their protection. Mr. Abdelghni Elberdi, head of section at the National Council for Human Rights (CNDH) and focal point for freedom of expression, for his part, declared that the CNDH, being endowed with a broad national mandate for the promotion and protection human rights, including freedom of expression, it was able to provide support and protection to journalists who needed it (handling of complaints, observation of trials, etc.). This meeting is part of a series of consultations organized by UNESCO and its partners around the world which will contribute directly to a global report currently being prepared. This Global Report will be presented at the high-level multi-stakeholder conference planned in Vienna (Austria), on 3 and 4 November 2022, and which will be organized by UNESCO in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Austria and the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The conference will be held in conjunction with the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.