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NUJ backs #HumanRightsDay

10 December 2018

The National Union of Journalists in the UK and Ireland (NUJ) has warned that the rights of journalists contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are under threat across the globe. 

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a historic document that was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly at its third session on 10 December 1948 and today marks 70 years since the creation of the declaration. 

Journalists are human rights defenders, often shining a light on those who abuse human rights.

Journalists’ human rights are also violated as they can face attacks as a result of their work.  

Seamus Dooley, NUJ assistant general secretary, said:

"The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a common good for all human kind. In today's turbulent world it is important to remember the historic reasons for the declaration and continue to champion human rights for all. 
"NUJ members face increasing pressures on their basic rights at work, including threats to their own well-being and safety. As a union we are seeing alarming incidents including the arrest and detention of journalists, threats and attacks that are both off-line and online, governments have subjected us to wide-ranging and draconian surveillance powers that threaten the right to report, the protection of journalistic sources and press freedom.
"At the most severe there is the continuing global impunity for the killing of media workers – all of these different aspects of human rights abuses are an unacceptable breach of the universal declaration we want to celebrate today." 

Natasha Hirst, chair of NUJ equality council, said:

"This anniversary is a timely reminder of the importance of human rights for safeguarding equality, justice and human dignity. Many of our members are low-paid, especially freelancers, working in an increasingly precarious industry where their rights at work are being eroded. Austerity and the political uncertainty of Brexit have created an environment that stokes hatred and exploitation.
"Journalists are finding themselves scapegoated and obstructed from doing their jobs, including the crucial role of exposing human rights violations against citizens. Now is the time to stand up for our rights and others', hold our governments to account and reiterate the importance of keeping human rights at the forefront of all thinking and policy development." 

Marc Wadsworth, chair of the NUJ Black members council, said:

"Media workers, particularly those in the global south, have been at the sharp end of human rights abuses that too often have resulted in them being jailed or murdered. In Europe and America we have witnessed the rise of the racist, white supremacist and islamophobic far-right, egged on by some powerful western leaders, including Donald Trump. As we mark the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we must demand governments, politicians and media organisations stick to its international standards because for many people them doing so is a matter of life or death."

Ann Galpin, chair of NUJ disabled members council, said:

"The human rights of disabled journalists are under attack. Discrimination, lack of reasonable adjustments and poor access to well-paid work is pushing some disabled journalists out of the profession and into poverty. Disabled people have the right to participate fully in society yet the UK government continues to insist on rolling out Universal Credit despite mounting evidence that it disproportionately damages the lives of disabled people, women and other marginalised social groups. All governments should be compelled to respect and uphold basic human rights for all." 

Tags: , human rights, united nations, equality council, black members' council, disabled members council