Journalists, media activists and advocacy groups will go for a wide range discussion on the freedom of press as well as ensuring the protection of the journalists, who continue reporting from a surrounding of conflicts, while they would meet at Hyderabad in central India on Friday for a workshop titled Media, Conflict Reporting and International Humanitarian Law.
The Press Institute of India (PII) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have already joined hands for the day-long workshop, where it is expected that the deliberation and discussion would help sensitizing the participating journalists about the existing rules and norms of conflict, the role to be played by media while reporting conflict, safe practices and the management of dangerous assignments. Organized in collaboration with the Department of Journalism, Osmania University on September 5 at ICSSR Conference Hall, the workshop will witness the participation of journalists from different parts of India.
“For journalists, the issues at the root of the violence are becoming more difficult to understand and to report about. Furthermore, journalists are being more directly targeted and many of them get killed, injured or go missing in situations marked by armed violence. At the same time, the general lack of knowledge of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Laws creates a situation that prevents reporters from drawing all necessary elements of analysis needed to adequately report about conflict or violent situations,” said the official statement of the organizers.
Citing the source of the International News Safety Institute, where it was reported that 167 journalists were killed in 2006 and altogether 1000 journalists and support staffs had to die on duties during the last 10 years around the globe, the statement also added that the Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF) highlighted the year 2006 as one of the deadliest years for the profession in the recent past. Quoting the record of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the statement also revealed that 615 journalists had to pay their lives on the job between 1992 and March 2007.
“The other important reason to carry out the task of educating journalists is to ensure their safety during conflicts. There are numerous reports indicating the deterioration of safety of the media staff and increasing numbers of attacks on journalists and their teams in situations of violence. The past decade is illustrative of the growing lack of protection and the inaction towards the protection of journalists by the decision-makers in conflict situations around the world,” it commented.
“By highlighting these problems, violations of laws, bad or good conduct, journalists will be able to influence important policy decisions at the government level and create pressure groups among civil society members who play a vital role in the future of the countries,” said Sangeetha Rajeesh, Editor – PII, an independent non-profit society founded in 1963.
V Murali, Director – Press Institute of India will welcome the participants, Manoj Joshi, Comment Editor – Mail Today will present the keynote address and Justice Subashan Reddy, Chairman – Human Rights Commission, Andhra Pradesh. will be the Chief Guest. The Communication Coordinator of ICRC, Philippe Stoll, the President of Indian Federation of Working Journalists, K. Vikram Rao, Communication Officer of ICRC, Surinder Oberoi, Bureau Chief – Andhra Jyothy, A. Krishna Rao and the Deputy Editor of The Hindu, K Srinivas Reddy will make presentations sessions of the workshop as resource persons.
The ultimate aim of the workshop and sensitization programme is expected to help reducing the suffering of the people caught in the midst of armed violence in the long run. A better understanding of the specificity of situations of violence and conflict is also projected to help the media persons to keep behaving in an appropriate manner, adapted to the context and thus increasing their own safety as well as their colleagues.
It may be mentioned that ICRC, which has been dedicated for the protection of lives and dignity of victims trapped in an armed conflict and internal violence since its inception in 1863, had earlier initiated to set up a South-Asian Centre for Journalists Reporting Conflict (SCJRC) in Chennai jointly with PII. The centre, started with an aim to ensure protection for the journalists surrounded by conflicts, is designed to contribute training for journalists allowing them to identify war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide as well as the laws applicable to conflict situations. This would thereby enlighten the journalists to acquire the ability to identify and report about the nature of armed violence.