Debate: Promoting Journalists’ Safety – Building an Effective Safety Mechanism

New report from UNESCO on existing journalist safety mechanisms to be discussed in panel debate on 2 May, World Press Freedom Day in Helsinki

WhenMonday, 2 May from 14:00 – 17:00

WhereMeeting room 25-26, Finlandia Hall, Mannerheimintie 13 e, 00100 Helsinki, Finland

International Media Support (IMS) and Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD) will host a panel debate in Helsinki on how to build national safety mechanisms to address the issue of safety in journalism.  Twitter: #MediaSafetyMech

There is a massive and ongoing global problem of journalists and others being targeted and often even killed for exercising their right to freedom of expression, something which has been termed ‘censorship by killing’. As part of the global programme to address this problem, under the leadership of UNESCO, the United Nations has adopted the Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.

Efforts to combat this heinous attack on freedom of expression must focus on both providing protection for those at risk and ensuring that those who do commit these crimes are brought to justice (i.e. combating impunity). As a key part of efforts to address both of these problems, the UN Plan of Action, in common with many national plans, focuses on putting in place national safety mechanisms.


  • Toby Mendel, Executive Director, Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD)
  • Frank La Rue, Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, UNESCO
  • Ms. Sophie Busson, Advocacy Advisor, Reporters without Borders (RSF)
  • Tahmina Rahman, Director, Bangladesh and South Asia, Article 19

Moderators: Jesper Højberg, Director, International Media Support & Morten Østervang, IMS Programme Manager

This side event will focus on a draft paper on such mechanisms – Supporting Freedom of Expression: A Practical Guide to Developing Specialised Safety Mechanisms – which has been prepared by the Centre for Law and Democracy in collaboration with UNESCO. Specific issues to be discussed include:

  • How central to States’ efforts to promote journalists’ safety are safety mechanisms and when should States be considering putting one in place?
  • What are the key considerations in designing a safety mechanism and does the paper cover them adequately?
  • What can we learn from the experience of the small number of States that have already put in place such mechanisms?
  • How can we support more States to develop such mechanisms?

Moderator: Jesper Højberg, Executive Director, IMS

The panel debate is organised by Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD) and International Media Support (IMS)

For more information, contact Jesper Højberg, Executive Director, IMS (; Toby Mendel, Executive Director, CLD (