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War on Words. Who Should Protect Journalists? by Joanne M. Lisosky and Jennifer R. Henrichsen Foreword by Chris Cramer. According to the Committee to.
Table of contents

Propaganda that incites war crimes, acts of genocide or acts of violence is forbidden, and news media that disseminate such propaganda can become legitimate targets. If the media is used to incite crimes, as in Rwanda, then it is a legitimate target A positive reply to this question may no doubt be found in an interpretation of Article 52 2 of Protocol I or of the principle whereby protection is lost in the event of participation in the hostilities. The ICTY commission itself replies as follows: The lawfulness of an attack depends not only on the nature of the target — which must be a military objective — but also on whether the required precautions have been taken, in particular as regards respect for the principle of proportionality and the obligation to give warning.

In this regard, journalists and news media do not enjoy a particular status but benefit from the general protection against the effects of hostilities that Protocol I grants to civilians and civilian objects. It provides the criterion that makes it possible to determine to what degree such damage can be justified under international humanitarian law: According to the principle of proportionality as set out in the above-mentioned articles, the accidental collateral effects of the attack, that is to say the incidental harmful effects on protected persons and property, must not be excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage.

Protection of Journalists | How does law protect in war? - Online casebook

When the United States bombed the Baghdad offices of the Al-Jazeera and Abu Dhabi television networks on 8 April , killing one journalist and wounding another, it would also seem that no advance warning of the attacks had been given to the journalists. In , lieutenant colonel Burrus M. Matheson, deputy legal adviser to the US Department of State, expressed the opinion that the obligation to give warning was customary in character.

This opinio juris is confirmed by the practice of a considerable number of States in international and internal armed conflicts. Beyond the specific cases of RTS in Yugoslavia, Al-Jazeera in Afghanistan or Baghdad and the Palestinian radio-television offices in Ramallah, it may more generally be asked whether the bombing of radio-television facilities is the most adequate means to the sought end. According to Article These other solutions may be justified from a military point of view in terms of economy and concentration of means, since the destruction of a military objective implies the destruction of materials and ammunition.

For all these reasons, would it not be preferable to use other means than bombing whenever possible? It follows from the above that journalists and their equipment enjoy immunity, the former as civilians, the latter as a result of the general protection that international humanitarian law grants to civilian objects. However, this immunity is not absolute.

Journalists are protected only as long as they do not take a direct part in the hostilities. News media, even when used for propaganda purposes, enjoy immunity from attacks, except when they are used for military purposes or to incite war crimes, genocide or acts of violence.

War on Words

However, even when an attack on news media may be justified for such reasons, every feasible precaution must be taken to avoid, or at least limit, loss of human life, injury to civilians and damage to civilian objects. Reaffirming that parties to an armed conflict bear the primary responsibility to take all feasible steps to ensure the protection of affected civilians,. Recalling the Geneva Conventions of 12 August , in particular the Third Geneva Convention of 12 August on the treatment of prisoners of war, and the Additional Protocols of 8 June , in particular article 79 of the Additional Protocol I regarding the protection of journalists engaged in dangerous professional missions in areas of armed conflict,.

Emphasizing that there are existing prohibitions under international humanitarian law against attacks intentionally directed against civilians, as such, which in situations of armed conflict constitute war crimes, and recalling the need for States to end impunity for such criminal acts,.

Recalling that the States Parties to the Geneva Conventions have an obligation to search for persons alleged to have committed, or to have ordered to be committed a grave breach of these Conventions, and an obligation to try them before their own courts, regardless of their nationality, or may hand them over for trial to another concerned State provided this State has made out a prima facie case against the said persons,. Deeply concerned at the frequency of acts of violence in many parts of the world against journalists, media professionals and associated personnel in armed conflict, in particular deliberate attacks in violation of international humanitarian law,.

Recognizing that the consideration of the issue of protection of journalists in armed conflict by the Security Council is based on the urgency and importance of this issue, and recognizing the valuable role that the Secretary-General can play in providing more information on this issue,.

Skip to main content. By entering this website you agree that we use cookies in order to understand visitor preferences and keep improving our service. Illegality of attacks on journalists and news media The illegality of attacks on journalists and news media derives from the protection granted to civilians and civilian objects under international humanitarian law, and from the fact that the media, even when used for propaganda purposes, cannot be considered as military objectives except in special cases.

Protection of journalists as civilians Without providing a precise definition of them, humanitarian law distinguishes between two categories of journalists working in conflict zones: Does the use of media facilities for propaganda purposes make legitimate targets of them? That is why the following statement by Amnesty International can only meet with approval: Obligation to take precautionary measures when launching attacks that could affect journalists and news media The lawfulness of an attack depends not only on the nature of the target — which must be a military objective — but also on whether the required precautions have been taken, in particular as regards respect for the principle of proportionality and the obligation to give warning.

The principle of proportionality: This is without prejudice to the right of war correspondents accredited to the armed forces to the status of prisoners of war provided for in article 4. Discussion Would you consider that journalists on dangerous mission were adequately protected before the special provision, Art. Or does it introduce a right for journalists that would not exist without this provision?

What is the benefit of that provision for journalists?

Protection of Journalists

Does it clarify the fact that they cannot be considered as spies? Does it protect their professional activities, namely their search for news? Or also permanent media correspondents? What are the rights under IHL of war correspondents accompanying the armed forces? What are the criteria they have to fulfil to be qualified as a war correspondent? What would happen if they do not fulfil those criteria? Is that card still relevant under Art. Do you think that by making an explicit distinction between journalists engaged in dangerous missions and war correspondents, IHL broadens the protection of journalists?

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Or does it undermine their protection? Why was this idea rejected? Do you think that considering journalists as a special category of protected persons or providing them with a distinctive sign would give them better protection? What are the main rights of a journalist, other than a war correspondent covered by Convention III, who is detained during an international armed conflict? Do these rights differ from those of war correspondents covered by Convention III?

Who Should Protect Journalists?

Do you think that one category is more likely to be subjected to ill-treatment on being captured than the other? He is now the executive editor of the Sentinel newspaper group in Maryland and the founder of the First Jail Birds Club, a small, informal group of journalists who have spent time behind bars for their work and advocate press freedom. Trump cares very little about a free press. Karem pointed out that a journalist was arrested earlier this month in Virginia after persisting in asking health secretary Tom Price a question.

Ironically, vice president Mike Pence was a champion of greater press freedom as a congressman from Indiana. Pence battled in vain to get Congress to pass a federal shield law to protect journalists from being coerced to reveal material or sources. While there are varying levels of protection at state level, there is no such federal law.

After Judith Miller was jailed, a dismayed Pence commented: And after two San Francisco Chronicle reporters were jailed in for refusing to disclose their sources in revealing a huge sports-doping scandal , Pence issued a press release, again calling on Congress to enact federal shield laws. Josh Wolf spent days in federal prison in California in and after he refused to hand over video footage of a protest in San Francisco to authorities.

Miller eventually testified in court. Risen narrowly avoided jail.

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