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Steering Committee on Media and Information Society


2nd meeting – 27 November 2012 – 09h30
to 30 November 2012 – 17h00
(Strasbourg, Palais de l’Europe, Room 2)

Item 5.1

Protection of journalists/journalism
Paper agreed by the Bureau of the CDMSI

Background information

Following its thematic debate on Media Freedom on 18 January 2012, the CM called on member states “to take all appropriate steps to ensure the protection of journalists, other media professionals and bloggers, both as regards preventive measures and effective investigation” and “tasked the CDMSI to examine possible initiatives [by] the Council of Europe to strengthen this protection.”

In June 2012 the freedom of expression rapporteurs of the UN, the OSCE, the OAS and the African Union together with Article 19 and the Centre for Law and Democracy identified the need to adopt a joint declaration on crimes against journalists. A resolution on the promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet, particularly freedom of expression, has been adopted by consensus at the Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. Moreover, the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity has been endorsed by the UN Chief Executives Board, the highest level coordination mechanism of the UN system.

On 27 September 2012, the Resolution on the Safety of Journalists was adopted at the 21st session of the UN Human Rights Council.

As mentioned in the thematic debate discussion paper on the “safety of journalists” presented by the Secretary General to the CM on 22 March 2012, the issue of “safety of journalists” is not limited to the physical integrity of the journalists and is strongly related to other issues which concern the free and effective exercise of the profession of journalism. The Bureau of the CDMSI proposes that the CDMSI take an approach which would be complementary to the work of other IGOs and more relevant to the European reality. A possible structure for such work can be outlined as follows and should be based on instruments already existing and relevant case-law of ECHR:

i) safety of journalists (positive obligations of the state under article 2, 3 and 5 of the ECHR, combined with article 10);
• protection of the physical integrity and right to liberty and security of journalists by preventive measures and an adequate legal framework;
• combating impunity: procedural obligations of States, access to appropriate remedies in the particular circumstances of the exercise of journalism.

ii) support for investigative journalism
• freedom of movement;
• access to information;
• protection of journalists’ sources.

iii) prevention of judicial intimidation of journalists by misuse of law
alignment of laws and practices with the relevant case-law of ECHR, mainly in the following areas:
• defamation
• anti-terrorism

Encouragement for legal protection and incorporation of ECHR case-law by awareness-raising/ capacity building activities and actions would be the main axes.

The necessity to consider the new challenges for the safety and protection of a variety of media professionals and media actors (including bloggers etc) which go beyond the definitions of classical journalists would be another major concern which should be reflected in the instruments.
Such a work could result in a Declaration on safety of Journalists and be followed by a recommendation(s).