Specialists from UN present proposal to protect journalists

On Wednesday, June 20, two UN Special Rapporteurs called for better protection for journalists during the Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, reported the news site Rfi.

The UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, Frank La Rue, and Christof Heyns, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, presented reports criticizing the lack of political will to enforce existing laws protecting the practice of journalism and to reduce impunity, according to the organization Press Emblem Campaign. They also called for the creation of a declaration for the protection of journalists that would be similar to the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

The international organization is waiting on the approval of a UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity , which has been in negotiation for about two years, and was blocked by Brazil, Cuba, Venezuela, India, and Pakistan. Coincidentally, these are some of the countries with the worst rates of impunity and violence against journalists.

The urgent need for journalists' safety can be measured in numbers. According to the Swiss news agency ATS, during the first five months of 2012, 65 media professionals died worldwide, which is 50 percent more than the same period last year, which makes one journalist killed every five days, reported the news agency AFP.

During the end of April, shortly after the killing of Brazilian journalist Décio Sá, the UN expressed concern with the number of journalists killed in Brazil in 2012.

Sá was the fourth journalist killed in only four months, which makes Brazil the second most dangerous place in Latin America for practicing journalism, behind only Mexico. Between the years 2000 and 2011, 79 Mexican journalists have been killed and 14 gone missing, according to the Opera Mundi. In the last 18 months alone, nine reporters were killed in the Mexican state of Veracruz, considered the most dangerous place in the world for journalists.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.