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PEC Condemns High Death Toll Among Journalists

2 May 2007 at 11:57 | 1937 views

PEC STATEMENT

Geneva, May 2 (PEC news).
On the occasion of World Press Freedom
Day May 3, the Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) condemns in the
strongest possible manner the high toll among journalists since the
beginning of the year.

According to the "PEC Media Ticking Clock" on average 2
journalists were killed per week a total of at least 34 killed
while performing their mission.

The PEC is appalled by the kidnapping March 12 of BBC colleague
Allan Johnston, in captivity in Gaza for more than seven weeks. The
PEC renews its call to all parties to secure the safe and
unconditional release of Johnston.

Those attacks are increasing despite the fact that at the end of
2006 a positive element was introduced, Security Council Resolution
1738 which was adopted on December 23 whose main objective is to
protect media in conflict zones.

Last year was the highest in media casualties since the Second
World War. The PEC fears that this year could surpass 2006 in media
casualties.

As statistics show a repetition of last year is taking place:
half of the journalists killed so far (17 out of 34) have been
targeted in Iraq.

However in some other 13 countries journalists were killed:
Afghanistan (2), Mexico (2), Philippines (2), Sri Lanka (2) and one
in Eritrea, Turkey, Haiti, Brazil, Ghana, Somalia, Russia, Perou
and Zimbabwe.

Outside Iraq, the worst hit countries by the growing casualties
among journalists are Mexico, Philippines, Russia, Sri Lanka,
Afghanistan and Somalia.

Presenting today his book just published: "Massacres without
Witnesses" (Xenia) at the Swiss Press Club, PEC Secretary-General
Blaise Lempen told reporters that the consequences are serious for
the media who cannot perform their work freely in many countries of
the world. Lempen added that the same serious consequences apply
for the protection of victims in general.

"Media working in the field are essential for documenting gross
human rights violations, the media presence for mobilizing public
opinion and decision makers," says Lempen. Swiss world human rights
activist Jean Ziegler wrote the introduction of the book.

PEC President Hedayat Abdel Nabi strongly believes that those in
most need for protection are the freelances. In Iraq itself, Abdel
Nabi adds many of the working journalists are Iraqis and
freelancers, and up to date more than 220 have died since March
2003, while 14 remain in captivity out of which four are
professional women journalists.

On the day that celebrates Press Freedom, the PEC stands firmly
beside its proposal for a new international convention to protect
media in zones of conflict and other dangerous situations.

The PEC believes that the proposed convention should include the
appropriate mechanisms for registering facts, enabling independent
enquiries, applying sanctions, offering compensation to victims in
accordance with new guidelines for the rules of engagement,
warnings and identification.

Endorsing a new convention by UN member states, says the PEC,
would lead to the establishment of a new independent organization
similar to the ICRC but assigned to protect journalists.

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