Statement by the Partner Organisations to the Safety of Journalists Platform on the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

ECPMF

24 February 2023

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Today, one year after the Russian Federation launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the Partner Organisations to the Safety of Journalists’ Platform remember the colleagues who lost their lives while covering the war, those who have endured injury, abduction, torture and suffering and express full support for all journalists who report truthfully about the war. According to alerts published on the platform, to date, twelve journalists and media workers have been killed while covering the war, or in connection with their profession, and 23 others have been injured.

 

The Partner Organisations condemn the threats to the lives and safety of journalists and media workers resulting from Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and call for enhanced protection of all who cover the war. In situations of conflict, the free and unhindered exercise of journalism is especially important to safeguard the right of the public to be informed. 

 

The Partner Organisations will continue documenting attacks on media workers and attempts to restrict coverage of the war, as well as exposing potential war crimes to facilitate accountability and bring those responsible to justice. 

 

Even though the Russian Federation is no longer part of the Council of Europe, the Partner Organisations pledge to continue monitoring the state of press freedom and attacks against journalists in that country. The clampdown on journalists and media workers in Russia, including the passage of a number of new laws, which criminalised accurate reporting on the realities of the war, hamper documentation of war crimes and violations of international humanitarian law. 

 

The Partner Organisations remind the authorities of the Russian Federation of their obligations and commitments regarding the protection of journalists in situations of conflict and tension, in accordance with international humanitarian and human rights law. These commitments are set out in the 1949 Geneva Convention on the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, and were cited in UN Security Council Resolution 2222, in particular:

  • Journalists and media workers operating in areas of armed conflict must be treated and protected as civilians and allowed to perform their work without undue interference. Attacks intentionally targeting journalists, as civilians, constitute war crimes. All states should do their utmost to end impunity for such criminal acts. States engaged in armed conflict should instruct their military and police forces to give necessary and reasonable assistance to journalists when they so request. They should disseminate the relevant instructions to their military and civilian authorities to make them aware of all these obligations.
  • States should facilitate the access of journalists and their equipment to the territory concerned by providing the necessary documentation and permissions. They should refrain from taking any restrictive measures against journalists, such as denial, withdrawal of accreditation or expulsion, on account of their exercise of their duties or the content of their reports. States should apply these provisions in a non-discriminatory and non-arbitrary manner in their dealings with journalists, whether foreign or local.

The Partner Organisations also urge media organisations to take all possible preventive and protection measures for the physical safety of journalists and media workers; and to provide them with adequate training and preparation before undertaking dangerous missions in situations of conflict and war.

 

Signed:

Justice for Journalists Foundation

Index on Censorship

International Press Institute (IPI)

European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)

Association of European Journalists (AEJ)

International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)

Free Press Unlimited (FPU)

PEN International 

ARTICLE 19

European Broadcasting Union

Rory Peck Trust (RPT)

Reporters Without Borders (RSF)

European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)

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