The United Nations Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution calling on Member States and all parties to armed conflict to protect journalists in conflict zones and elsewhere.
The resolution declared that the work of a free and independent media is essential to a democratic society, and called on States to ensure there is accountability for crimes against media personnel in armed conflict, and to respect the right of journalists everywhere to exercise their profession without intimidation.
Resolution 2222 was adopted as the violence against journalists worldwide continues to rise – including summary executions, kidnappings and imprisonment.
Speaking to the Security Council, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power highlighted the case of Mazen Darwish, head of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression, which reported on the atrocities committed by the Assad regime. Mr. Darwish and his two colleagues, Hani Zitani and Hussein Ghareer, were arrested and imprisoned by regime authorities in 2012. Their trial has been suspended twenty-four times.
Ambassador Power noted that it is not only in conflict zones that journalists are in danger:
Look to any region, and you will see alarming warning signs of how the crackdown on press freedom is coupled with a broader crackdown on civil and political rights.”
“Look to any region, and you will see alarming warning signs of how the crackdown on press freedom is coupled with a broader crackdown on civil and political rights.”
Her examples included the imprisonment in Ethiopia of nine journalists, including six bloggers from the collective Zone 9, who have been behind bars since April 2014 charged under Ethiopia’s Anti-Terrorism Proclamation.
Ambassador Power noted that for every journalist or group targeted through prosecution, attacks and threats, countless more are impacted -- self- censoring, hiding or fleeing countries that desperately need their independent voices.
With Resolution 2222, the international community has underlined the need to protect journalists and the right to free expression--insisting that States and other groups who violate this right be held accountable. It is now the responsibility of all to move from affirmation to implementation of this crucial principle.