UNITED NATIONS, Sep 14 (APP):The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Monday said journalists reporting on protests around the world have increasingly come under attack, with some arrested and others killed in the course of their work.
In a report ‘Safety of Journalists Covering Protests – Preserving Freedom of the Press During Times of Civil Unrest’, the Paris-based UN agency said it had seen an upward trend in such incidences between January and June this year.
“Journalists have a critical role in reporting and informing audiences on protest movements,” Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director-General said in a statement.
She underscored the importance of informing citizens on the causes of unrest and the response from State authorities, noting that it was of vital importance for democracies to thrive.
UNESCO’s findings reveal a “wider upward trend” in the use of unlawful force by police and security forces over the last five years, with more than 30 protests impeded by police and security forces last year alone – double the 2015 number.
The report detailed a wide rage of abuses faced by journalists, including harassment, intimidation, beatings, being shot at with lethal or non-lethal ammunition, detention and abduction.
At least 10 journalists were killed during protests between 2015 and mid-2020 when there were 125 instances of attacks on, or arrests of, reporters, according to UNESCO which investigated protests in 65 countries for the report.
The reporters who died on the job worked in Syria, Mexico, Israel, Nicaragua, Northern Ireland, Nigeria and Iraq.
Azoulay pointed out that “for many years, UNESCO has been raising global awareness” to ensure that journalists can do their jobs, “without fear of persecution” and has continued to train “security forces and the judiciary on international norms in freedom of expression.”
She called upon the international community to ensure journalists rights are respected.