Panellists at the World Press Freedom Day 2022 commemoration in Arusha, Tanzania

IMS joins global partners on UN media safety plan

The safety of journalists remains a core concern for IMS, which announced at a World Press Freedom Day conference in Tanzania that it will continue to support African stakeholders and their work with the United Nations Plan on the Safety of Journalists.

The safety of journalists has been an area of concern for many years and it was also on the agenda for this year’s Africa commemoration for WPFD. Attendees also discussed the UNs plan for the safety of journalists, and how it needed to include more on the safety of women journalists.

Issues of concern include ensuring that women journalists are able to work safely in the field and within their own newsrooms. The ways in which sexual innuendos begin to not be merely seen as harmless banter, but as a real threat to female journalists. Finally, it’s also important to discuss how new threats such as trolling and cyber-bullying can be addressed?

These questions will be included in the consultations in the months ahead.

“As we reflect on UNPA, we need to be cognisant that safety of journalists and impunity  on crimes against journalists is experienced differently by women and men. It is not enough to just make generalised statements about gender,” said Simbiso Marimbe, IMS Zimbabwe Programme Manager.

The UNPA, which began in 2012, is a UN-wide plan to promote the safety of journalists and tackle the widespread impunity for crimes committed against them. It was developed by UNESCO in close collaboration with a wide range of stakeholders, including Member States, other UN agencies, NGOs, academia as well as media representatives and practitioners.

Over the past 10 years it has become clear that governments are still willing to compromise the safety of journalists. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the internationally recognized press freedom rights and access to information were limited arbitrarily.

World Press Freedom Day marks the beginning of another opportunity to engage stakeholders and reflecting upon the successes and difficulties encountered while trying to implement the UNPA and its work in Africa over the past decade.

“It will be an opportunity to define the African regional expectations, which will guide the interventions in the coming years within the UN, continental and national development frameworks. The objective of discussions is, therefore, to strategize on how the UNPA could be implemented more effectively, building upon the success stories, best practices and lessons learnt, including the emerging digital trends and their impact to the implementation of the UNPA,” said Lydia Gachungi, Regional Expert for Safety of Journalists and Media Development under the UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa.