Joined: 14 Nov 2003
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
|International Protections Available to Journalists
By Maurice Ali, Journalist
There are several International laws that are recognized as useful in the defense of the "Free Press"
The rights of the press were first outlined in the United Nation's: Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10 1948.
Article 19 states "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights restated the Declaration and was signed or ratified by 130 countries on March 23, 1976.
The right to a free press is also endorsed by:
The European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
The Interamerican Convention of Human Rights
The African Charter of Human and People's Rights.
In addition to outlining the rights to a free press international humanitarian law also affords journalists working in war zones special protections. They are considered civilians and should be given immunity provided they have not taken a direct part in the hostilities.
However, the organization know as Reporters Without Borders, an international organization that represents journalist internationally and supports freedom of the press, stated that journalists (and the press in general) in 93 countries face 'difficult' or 'very difficult' situations in the performance of their duties.
The United Nations made specific mention about the violations of the freedom of expression around the world. In 1993 the United Nations saw fit to appoint Mr. Abid Hussain as Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of these rights and freedoms.
Having mentioned all of this. It is still painfully obvious that the journalist in the field is mostly unprotected and their safety is at the whim of the police and government that supports it. We at this organization support a free press and the ability of a journalist to perform their duties in an unfettered manner.
This is still an uphill battle as many countries pay "lip service" to the above international agreements and practice something else in reality. When I started this organization, I knew that one of the first things to do was to start an archive of journalists that was free from borders and politics. It was simply to be an archive of any amateur or professional journalist and proof of their status available to all. This database had to be of a nature as to instantly present onto any form of computer imaginable. In addition to that, we needed to be able to bring complaints to an international body that would listen to us and have the power to help effect change; the body is: The United Nations.
This is why we have begun our task of building up our fledgling corporation for the task at hand.