UN Security Council and journalists at risk

A legal expert wonders if it’s time for the United Nations Security Council to become pro-active in protecting journalism.

Daniel Pearl, Wall Street Journal correspondent, abducted in Pakistan in 2002 and beheaded in a manner copied by the murderers of freelance journalist James Foley this month. READ: International law fails to protect journalists from savagery.

“Statistics suggest that many states are unwilling or unable to deter crimes against journalists by ensuring that the perpetrators are held to account,” writes Carmen Draghici. “The culture of impunity not only infringes the victims’ right to life, personal security and free speech, but also has a chilling effect on the media in general, as well as affecting the public’s right to information.”

An excerpt of Draghici’s essay in Dispatches/Publica:

The vicious execution of US journalist James Foley by militants of the Islamic State deepens the concern that international law and diplomacy may be ill-equipped to address crimes against media workers reporting from conflict zones.

The video depicting the decapitation and cautioning Barack Obama to end military operations in Iraq displays a modus operandi typical of terrorist negotiation strategy. It evokes the murder of freelance journalist Enzo Baldoni in 2004 by the Islamic Army in Iraq, after the fundamentalist group attempted to use the hostage as a leverage tool for an ultimatum requesting the withdrawal of Italian troops from Iraq.

It further echoes the murder of Wall Street Journal correspondent Daniel Pearl, abducted in Pakistan in 2002, whose captors posted the video of the beheading as a warning after unsuccessfully demanding the release of Guantanamo Bay Muslim prisoners.

Unlawful killings have also been used as a tactic to inhibit the dissemination of information and critical views, as in the kidnapping and shooting of US freelance journalist Steven Vincent by Islamic extremists in Iraq in 2005.

High-profile cases are only the tip of the iceberg … read International law fails to protect journalists from savagery. (Free story*)

*Facts and Opinions is a boutique for slow journalism, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O is sustained entirely by readers: we do not carry advertising or solicit donations from foundations or causes.  Why? We appreciate, and will continue with, your interest and support:  for $2.95 (the price of a cheap brew) you can subscribe to F&O for a month. If that breaks your budget, a one-day pass is $1. A subscription is required for most F&O original work. Subscribe for free to Frontlines by entering your address in the form on the right (we won’t share your address), or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.