Panel One Recordings

Laws and practices instituted on journalist safety worldwide: A systematic review

Eryn Jersey Cadapan and John Dominic Sunga

University of Santo Tomas (UST), The Philippines

Violence against journalists is a reality. Just in the last decade, 324 journalists had been murdered worldwide, and 85 percent of these cases are unpunished. These realities have warranted the institution of advocacy efforts, policies, practices and capacity-building activities on the safety of journalists at national, regional and global levels. How has research captured the institutionalization of safety precautions to protect journalists? This systematic review paper from the Philippines will examine over a hundred previous studies around the world. Materials have been culled from the top scholarly journals in journalism and communication, in a database managed by the Journalism Safety Research Network (JSRN), and through searches in scholarly databases. It was found that there are hardly any specific laws for journalists covering war zones and conflicted areas. Meanwhile, limited government action on journalism safety also saw journalists and journalism groups implement practices and other safety precautions themselves. Although, some countries have set up special government divisions to address media impunity and journalist safety, studies have also documented efforts such as safety training before they are dispatched to war zones; security personnel when they are covering stories; or providing bulletproof vests for protection. This systematic review has also captured efforts by countries to institute laws and practices on journalist safety and security. Findings here seek to spur efforts by journalism stakeholders and journalism researchers to promote more laws and practices on journalist safety and on journalist safety precautions.

War reporters under threat: The United States and Media Freedom

Chris Paterson 

University of Leeds

This presentation is based upon a chapter of my 2014 book “War reporters under threat: The United States and Media Freedom”. The book analysed a particular kind of anti-press violence which became common in the early-2000s: that of democratic states – the United States in particular – attacking and imprisoning media workers in large numbers. The book documents the rarely commented on phenomena of the world’s leading advocate of press freedom – in terms of policy and funding – being implicated in attacks on twenty media facilities and the deaths of over forty media workers between 1999 and 2007. This chapter addressed the question of the legality of these attacks, drawing attention to evidence that the United States and its closest allies neglected international law with impunity, substantially increasing the global threat to journalists covering conflict. An insufficient response from those who profit from journalism and the organisations established to defend the conduct of the free press permitted attacks to escalate and contributed to the curtailment and sanitisation of war reporting. Media organisations substantially failed to unite in their efforts to protect media workers, failed to put the issue of press protection on the public agenda, and failed to push governments toward greater accountability. Among other recommendations, this analysis argues for the necessity of reform of international press protections and consideration of making the killing of journalists a war crime.

Investigating the efficacy of the Egyptian Data Protection Law on Media Freedom: Journalists’ perceptions

Miral Sabry AlAshry

Future University

The purpose of this study is to investigate the effectiveness of the Egyptian Personal Data Protection Law No. 151 for 2020, as well as its implications for journalistic practice. More specifically, the focal point of this study was to explore how Egyptian journalists interpret the law and its implication for press freedom in Egypt. The underpinning theoretical framework was informed by the Authoritarian school of thought. Questionnaires were distributed to 199 journalists from both independent and semi-governmental representing thirteen official newspapers of Egypt, while in-depth interviews were done with (3) Editors, (4) journalists, and (3) human rights lawyers. The finding of the study indicated that the government placed restrictions on journalists by using Data Protection Law relating to the media. That law is negatively impacting journalists and media houses. It was clear from the findings that the journalists see the law as an obstacle to media independence, as it allows the government to exercise greater information control through digital policy and puts rules of regulation against journalists.

Is legislative protection a right for journalists? A study from Indian sub-continent 

Sriram Arulchelvan

Anna University, Chennai, India

The lack of legislative protections for journalists has become a pressing concern in contemporary society. Journalists play a crucial role in upholding democratic values by investigating and reporting on matters of public interest. However, their ability to perform this vital function is compromised without adequate legal safeguards. This study examines the consequences of the absence of legislative protections for journalists and highlights the urgent need for comprehensive legal frameworks to safeguard their rights and freedoms. This study employs a mixed-methods approach to explore the lack of legislative protections for journalists. Firstly, a comprehensive literature review is conducted to examine existing scholarly research related to press freedom and journalist protections. The review provides a foundation for understanding the current state of legislative protections. This study also analyses qualitative data of interviews with journalists, media professionals, legal experts, and representatives of press freedom organizations. The interview data is analysed thematically to identify common themes, concerns, and recommendations from the participants on legislative protections. Furthermore, quantitative data is collected through surveys administered to journalists working in different regions and media sectors. The surveys assess the frequency and nature of threats, violence, and legal harassment experienced by journalists in the absence of legislative protections. The findings of this study highlight the detrimental effects of the lack of legislative protections for journalists. The results shed light on the challenges faced by journalists, including intimidation, harassment, censorship, and arbitrary arrests. Moreover, the study identifies key areas where legislative protections are needed, such as freedom of expression, source confidentiality, and mechanisms for compensation.

Instrumentalization of the law for media capture (case of Georgia) 

Mariam Gersamia, Maia Toradze and Lika Sajaia

Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University, New Vision University and Transparency International Georgia

The Georgian media landscape continues to reflect the challenges encountered by hybrid democracies, as well as the threats inherited from autorotation regimes, even 32 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Despite efforts towards democratization, the authoritarian playbook and Soviet legacy continue to undermine the development of democratic institutions, including the media. Based on the challenges that have existed since previous years, the study analyzes the existing threats in relation to media capture and freedom of expression. This situation is compounded by kleptocracy, media capture and Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation (SLAPPs) as acceptable practices within the Soviet legacy and mindset. The set of negative amendments, legal initiatives and established practices follow the Kremlin playbook and threaten democracy in Georgia. All these threats become even more visible during local and global crises such as pre-and post-election periods, pandemics, and times of war. The purpose of this study is to assess the threats and supporting mechanisms present in the Georgian media environment in 2022-2023. The research highlights the impact of political polarization and crises on media viability and the impact of global and local crises (including Russia’s war in Ukraine) on the media environment; focuses on the extent to which the safety of journalists is ensured in Georgia, how the investigation of crimes committed against journalists is conducted, and what is being done to end any impunity.