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NUJ warns journalists they are increasingly targets in conflict zones

20 August 2014

The NUJ joined the international community in expressing its shock at the video purporting to show the beheading of US journalist James Foley, who went missing in Syria in 2012.

In a video, titled A Message to America, a man identified as James Foley, dressed in an orange jumpsuit, is shown with a hooded  Islamic State militant who appears to start cutting  his  neck.  A body was then seen on the ground. Another captive, identified as American journalist Steven Sotloff, taken hostage in 2013, was shown at the end, with the threat that his fate depended upon the actions of President Barack Obama.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:

"This incident is deeply shocking and if the video is found to be genuine then we offer our condolences to James Foley's family and friends. This summer's events in the Middle East, Ukraine and Africa have produced a dangerous and lethal climate for foreign correspondents and journalists in the field reporting on bloody conflicts and for the local journalists recording events in such dangerous territory. It is deeply alarming to see that journalists are becoming direct targets and their lives are being put at risk.
"UNESCO figures show that two journalists a week are killed for bringing news and information to the public. The International Federation of Journalists reports that almost 70 have been killed already this year. With broadcasters shutting foreign bureaus and making cuts to their staff, it has been increasingly the freelance journalists who have been reporting these events.  Newspapers and broadcasting organisations must have a responsibility in ensuring that the people who work for them are properly briefed and trained in safety measures. The NUJ and the IFJ provides such training.
"The NUJ has also called on the international community to expose the shameful failure of governments to properly investigate and prosecute the killers of journalists and bring the perpetrators to justice. It is a simple fact that freedom of the press and free expression are not possible where journalists face extreme violence for doing their job."
  • The IFJ has issued an appeal for authorities in Yemen to immediately increase protection for media workers in the country following an escalation in attacks, including the murder of a senior journalist. According to IFJ affiliate, the Yemeni Journalists’ Syndicate (YJS), Abdulrahman Hameed Aldin, who worked for Sana’a Radio, was shot in the head on Friday 15 August, by an armed group in Yemen’s capital city Sana’a. The YJS stated that Ibrahim Al Abiad, a TV director for Yemen TV, found an unexploded bomb under his car while it was parked next to his home in Sana'a on Saturday afternoon. The bomb was deactivated by explosive experts. 

  • The IFJ has called on Colombian authorities to investigate the murder of the journalist Luis Carlos Cervantes in north west Colombia and to ensure that his killers answer for their crimes. According to media reports, Cervantes, journalist and director of the radio station, Morena FM, based in the township of Tarazá, in Antioquia, was killed on Wednesday 13 August, on the road that leads from Tarazá to La Caucana. 

  • The IFJ has advised all journalists who continue to report in Gaza to remain vigilant at all times, even during periods of ceasefire, after two journalists were killed while photographing attempts to dismantle an unexploded Israeli bomb. According to IFJ affiliate, the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate (PJS), Italian photographer Kamili Simon, 37, who worked for Associated Press, and Palestinian media worker and freelance interpreter Ali Abuafash, 38, were killed on Wednesday 13 August, in Beit Lahya, north of the Gaza Strip.  At least 15 journalists  are believed to have  lost their lives since the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza strip began nearly one month ago.

  • The IFJ has condemned the severe and unwarranted action of Somali security forces who last Friday raided and closed independent radio stations in Mogadishu and arrested 19 media workers. Sixteen of the journalists were subsequently released, but three are still being held. The IFJ has demanded that the three remaining journalists are released immediately and expressed its concern for their safety and well-being amid reports they have been subjected to abuse and torture.

The International Federation of Journalists has recently issued a media advisory urging journalists and media staff who travel to eastern Ukraine, Egypt and other trouble spots, offering tips to assist journalists. IFJ website on safety 

Tags: , international, safety training, safety, ifj, James Foley, syria, gaza, somalia, yemen, colombia, war, conflict