[JURIST] A group of UN human rights experts, including the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, urged stronger protection [press release] Monday for journalists covering conflicts. The group said recent attacks, kidnappings, and arbitrary incarcerations need to be condemned and opposed by the international community. The experts stressed that “journalists covering armed conflicts do not lose their status as civilians; they are not participants in the conflicts they cover. As such, they continue to be protected by the applicable guarantees under human rights law and international humanitarian law.” The group highlighted that reports indicate over sixty journalists have been killed in the past three years in Syria alone, and several journalists have been killed during the recent violence in Gaza. The experts called for an open and committed dialogue between governments, journalists, non-state groups and other actors to strengthen and promote protections as well as hold accountable those responsible for violence.
Journalism is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, with more than 1,000 journalists killed since 1992 and more than 200 journalists imprisoned [CPJ factsheets]. Last month rights groups declared the execution of US journalist James Foley by Islamic State (IS) extremists a war crime [JURIST report]. In July Amnesty International reported mounting evidence of abductions and violence against activists, protesters and journalists [JURIST report] in eastern Ukraine. Also in July a Myanmar court sentenced [JURIST report] four journalists and the chief executive of the Unity Journal to 10-year prison sentences and hard labor for publishing a story alleging the Myanmar military had seized land in Magwe for the purpose of producing chemical weapons. In June an Egyptian court sentenced three Al Jazeera journalists to prison [JURIST report] for reporting false news and aiding the Muslim Brotherhood; three other journalists were sentenced in absentia. In May HRW called on Myanmar to pass more protective media laws [JURIST report] and end arbitrary arrests of journalists.