National human rights institutions and journalist safety

This report explores the role of national human rights institutions (NHRIs) particularly in South and Southeast Asia – Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines – and probes how their resolute engagement in supporting national safety mechanisms for journalists can contribute to upholding their mandate of promoting human rights for all.

Entrusted with the responsibility for monitoring freedom of expression – the basic right that most broadly covers journalistic work – NHRIs can serve as strong allies in the promotion of journalist safety.

As each country has a unique NHRI shaped by its respective legal and political frameworks, this report maintains that a “one-size-fits-all” model cannot exist for NHRIs to anchor a national journalist safety mechanism. Findings emphasise that NHRIs, media, civil society, police, prosecutors, government and all other relevant actors must work together through continuous consultations and collaborations to craft a specially tailored design for each operational context. This research walks though the various approaches underway to build partnerships and foster collaborations amongst and between relevant stakeholders in the four countries covered sitting in South and Southeast Asia.

Irrespective of how they are formed, the establishment and operationalisation of independent multi-stakeholder mechanisms serve a vital purpose to democracies: ensuring free flow of information by protecting journalists, media professionals and human rights defenders. While NHRIs can bring state authority and international credibility to the table, journalists and civil society groups bring their advocacy, coalition building capabilities and close relations with the media to a national safety mechanism. Synergistic exchanges between sectors on the modalities of promoting journalist safety and ending impunity in this way gives hope that a more enabling environment for journalists to carry out their work is on the horizon.

Publication information

This report was finalised in June 2022. It provided a foundation for best practice learning and sharing between key stakeholders who convened in Kathmandu, Nepal for workshops over 10–11 November 2022. The abridged version of the report provides the objectives of the workshops and a summary and updates in the respective contexts between June and November 2022.