An initial meeting at UN headquarters brought together fifteen countries, including Greece, Russia, Pakistan, Peru, Italy and Tunisia, International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) head Anthony Bellanger said.
His Brussels-based organisation represents 600,000 journalists in 134 countries.
Meeting with state representatives from Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, Latin America, Asia and North America, IFJ leaders set out the case for a new UN Convention dedicated to the protection of media professionals according.
This year 2 journalists have been killed every week on average and conviction rates for those who mastermind such killings remain almost non-existent.
International Human Rights expert Carmen Draghici told the meeting that as a result of the deliberate targeting of journalists and the systemic impact of attacks on media workers for citizens right to know there was a clear case for a dedicated instrument to tackle crimes against journalists.
The initiative – launched by the IFJ last year – also won the support of representatives of WAN-IFRA, the world association of newspaper owners, the European Broadcasting Union and UNI, a 20-million strong global trade union federation which represents media workers across the world.
Elena Perotti of WAN-IFRA thanked the IFJ for the initiative and said: “Impunity continues to dominate, the statistics are shocking. It is vitally important we now see some action. For too long a lack of political will has been the biggest impediment”.
Johannes Studinger, General Secretary of UNI-MEI told the meeting: “Not a week goes by without us receiving reports of yet more attacks or repression against media workers. Unless there is action we fear that we will just keep talking about more and more attacks. We express our support for the IFJ initiative”.
IFJ President Philippe Leruth said: “A journalist’s murder simply because of his or her activity is a scandal, but a far bigger scandal is that 9 out of every 10 journalists’ murders remain unpunished. The Khashoggi case, like all the others, illustrate that journalists are singled out as a target and as such they need dedicated protection”.
IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said: “Today was an important first step towards securing enhanced protection for journalists and media professionals. We welcome the support and commitment from member states and our fellow professional organisations and will continue to build a broader coalition to deliver real action on impunity”.