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ID with the Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression and the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions

Last updated: 21.06.2012 // Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression and the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. Statement by Norway.

Madam President,

The two special rapporteurs both address the increasingly difficult working environment for journalists. Both focus on the need to protect journalists from reprisals due to their reporting activities. We see the two reports as complementary and see great value in being able to address the reports in the same meeting of the Council. Norway wishes to commend the two special rapporteurs for having chosen such a timely topic for their reports to the human rights council.

Before we comment on the two reports we would like to draw the link to the situation experienced by many human rights defenders today. The trend of killing journalists, subjecting them to other forms of physical attacks or harassment, or using criminal laws to suppress them are unfortunately quite similar to the trends human rights defenders experience and have experienced for many years. Both journalists and human rights defenders have crucial roles to play in order to inform society and empower the people.

It is important to recognize that not all journalists are human rights defenders, but when they do document and report on human rights, the provisions of the UN declaration on human rights defenders apply. This includes art. 12, which declares that the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection of individuals against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any arbitrary action as a consequence of the legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the Declaration.

 

Madam President,

The Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue, confirms in his report that the most dangerous issues for a journalist to report on today are human rights violations, peaceful protests, corruption, organized crime and environmental issues.

The Special Rapporteur underlines that journalism constitutes a necessary service for any society as it provides individuals and society as a whole with the necessary information to allow them to develop their own thoughts and draw their own conclusions and opinions. When journalists are threatened or killed, not only the individual journalist is under attack, but also society as such. 

We also welcome that the Special Rapporteur highlights the situation of untrained citizen journalists. He argues convincingly that the untrained play an increasingly important role in documenting and disseminating news as they unfold on the ground.  Could the Special Rapporteur elaborate further on how to address and secure also the safety of untrained citizen journalists better in the future?

We very much appreciate that the Special Rapporteur this year focuses on the fact that female journalists may face additional risks such as sexual assaults and violence. Could you share some advice of what should be done to protect female journalists working in hostile environments better?

The Special Rapporteur also draws our attention to the continuing and very serious problem of impunity for those who harass or kill journalists. The new UN Joint Plan of Action on the Protection of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity is mentioned. Could the Special Rapporteur please elaborate further on the progress with regard to implementation of this Plan?

Madam President,

Let me now turn to the excellent report of Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heynes.

The report very clearly states that threats against journalists should be regarded as early warning signals of that more drastic measures may follow.  

As also highlighted by Frank La Rue, Heyns affirms that the present challenge is the implementation of existing normative frameworks at national and international level. Norway shares this assessment. We also agree that a primary objective is prevention as more than 70 per cent of journalists murdered are reported to have received prior threats. This is a significant number.  

The Special Rapporteur mentions some of the ways in which journalists could be better protected. Could you be so kind to elaborate further on this, including concrete, good practices in promoting the safety of journalists?     

Thank you.

See the statement as a webcast


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