On the international day to end impunity for crimes against journalists, the Journalist Support Committee in Beirut held a seminar entitled: " Challenges of Journalist Safety: The Reality of Violations and Protection".
UNESCO's Program Officer, Mr. George Awad, representative of Amnesty International, Ms. Sima Watling, The Association of European Journalists, Ms. Isaia Tsaousidou, and a number of media professionals have participated in the seminar.
Mr. Hussein Youssef welcomed the audience in the name of the committee, and delivered a speech on the importance of this day in the Arab World, as well as a general and comprehensive glimpse of the committee's work and its importance in combating impunity in the Arab World.
Mr. Hussein also spoke about Bahrain, as a living example of Impunity, focusing on the deterioration of media freedoms in Bahrain, where more than 1250 violations was registered between 2011 till the beginning of 2017. The committee believes that one of the reasons for the aggravation of these violations is the lack of serious accountability.
Mr. George Awad, Program Officer, UNESCO's Regional Office, explained the role of the organization in guiding press safety. He also called for the cessation of violations and crimes against journalists. He also announced UNESCO's launch of an educational material on the safety of journalists in addition to digital protection in Arab Universities.
Ms. Sima Watling, Amnesty International, stressed the need for states to protect all citizens without discrimination and referred to some cases of impunity in Bahrain. Ms. Sima called on the Bahraini Government for the immediate and unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience, detained solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression, and to ensure a fair trial for all detainees under international law and standards, and to prepar prompt, thorough, impartial and independent investigations into tortures and deaths while under custody, ensuring that all suspected perpetrators of torture or unlawful killings are held accountable and that all victims of human rights violations are fully compensated.
Ms. Isaia, vice president of the Association of European Journalists, expressed the importance of maintaining freedom of opinion and expression, especially in Europe, in order to remain an example of media freedom for other nations. Also, Ms. Isaia stressed that winning over impunity is possible but requires the cooperation of all governments, journalists and human rights organizations, and more importantly it requires a dialogue among all journalists from all around the world.
(Video Link to Bahrain Impunity Victims, produced by JSC: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_lyz0Jf-9g&t=22s )
In conclusion, a list of recommendations made by the Journalist Support Committee were mentioned.
Ms. Awad also pointed to the importance of further cooperation between the committee and UNESCO, and to maintain contact with Mr. Hussein Youssef, Representative of the committee in Bahrain.