Journalists' Safety Theme of World Press Freedom Day Celebration in Indonesia
22 May 2007
"Safety should never be compromised!" Heard against the backdrop of the recent release of "Killing the Messenger," the report of the global inquiry by the International News Safety Institute (INSI) into the protection of journalists, the cry of Indonesian journalists and media staff gathered in Jakarta last May 2-3 to celebrate World Press Freedom Day rang loud and clear.
In a way, it was also an indictment of the increasing death toll among the ranks of journalists worldwide. INSI Southeast Asia was invited by the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) and the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) to talk about journalists' safety in a forum attended by some 50 Indonesian journalists, IFJ representatives, international agencies, and SEAPA fellows.
Citing figures and statistics from the report, INSI Southeast Asia Regional Coordinator Red Batario, emphasized that one of the findings showed "only one in four news media staff died covering war and other armed conflicts. The great majority died in peacetime, working in their own countries."
Focusing on the Southeast Asian situation, Batario also pointed out that in many countries in the region, especially in the Philippines, a climate of impunity and imperfect national judicial systems put journalists at grave risk.
Calling on journalists and media staff to develop a culture of safety, he also urged media employers to adopt safety codes as their commitment to the protection of their staff. He then outlined practical steps that journalists can take to protect themselves while on dangerous assignments.
Copies of the INSI report and the Reporter's Notebook and Safety Guide were distributed to the participants.