~ DCMF Third Annual Report

Doha Centre for Media Freedom (DCMF) is pleased to issue its third annual report, which highlights the pressing issues facing journalists and the media industry throughout the course of 2014 and early 2015.

Unfortunately, the targeting of journalists continues all over the world, with members of the media in the Arab world once again facing extreme danger. 

Of at least 109 journalists, media workers and citizen journalists who lost their lives throughout 2014, 63 of them were killed in the Arab region, which indicates that the situation facing journalists in this part of the world still requires urgent attention.

Following up on the continued danger that members of the media face on a daily basis, this year’s report focuses on the issue of impunity and the deadly impact that it continues to pose by detailing a number of violations of press freedom and attacks on journalists from various countries.

Last year’s launch of the International Day to End Impunity on November 2 provided the international community with an opportunity to run awareness campaigns and other initiatives to highlight this issue and counter its spread.

In 2014, DCMF organised a forum “Towards Ending Impunity” which brought together media and legal experts to discuss the issue of impunity and devise recommendations about how to combat the proliferation of this issue. 

The prevalence of impunity across the globe represents the single most dangerous threat to journalists and media freedom around the world. 

As long as individuals, governments, armed groups and others are able to target journalists without fear of recrimination or justice, members of the media will be unable to carry out their jobs with any sense of safety or security. 

As a result, society in general suffers as citizens are denied their basic human right of access to information, one of the fundamental principles of democracy upon which others are built.

Towards ending impunity

This report begins by detailing the threat of impunity before going on to explore the significance of this threat, the challenges countering it, the tangible impact of impunity and the ways in which organisations such as DCMF can work within a multi-stakeholder framework to curb the spread of impunity.

DCMF has also chosen to focus on the threats facing journalists in Gaza, where at least 16 media workers were killed during the violence in 2014. 

Journalists are regularly targeted during offensives in Palestine, and the Israeli forces responsible for targeting and killing journalists are rarely held accountable for their actions. 

Facing extreme difficulty of living under occupation, journalists in Gaza also have to contend with the constant threat of death as they attempt to carry out their work.

DCMF’s annual report goes on to highlight the global threat that impunity poses by exploring different case studies around the world.  From the ongoing impunity enjoyed by the occupying forces in Palestine, to the impunity with which drug cartels in Mexico attack journalists on a regular basis; from the Ethiopian government’s ongoing persecution of journalists who are regularly denied justice, to the threat of impunity in conflict zones such as Syria; DCMF’s report sets out case studies featuring input from local and international experts to outline the state of media freedom and the issue of impunity in selected nations. 

By examining the different ways in which impunity can prevail and the impact that it has on society as a whole, DCMF hopes to contribute towards efforts to raise awareness of this major obstacle to freedom of expression, media freedom and human rights in general.

Education: an essential tool

Combating impunity requires taking reactive measures in terms of pursuing justice for the journalists who have been unlawfully targeted and have suffered because of their work.

However, DCMF believes that it is also extremely important to adopt a preventative approach and attempt to tackle the issues which lead to the prevalence of impunity in the first place. 

The single most important aspect of this challenge is education; educating journalists about their rights and responsibilities and providing them with the capacity to work as safely and responsibly as possible, educating media houses about their responsibilities to their employees and freelancers, educating governments about how to deal with members of the media without restricting media freedom, as well as providing media and information literacy (MIL) education to younger generations. 

By developing MIL education, we can ensure that the next generation of youth are able to critically analyse themedia they consume and can live as fully aware, engaged global citizens as opposed to passive consumers, viable to be manipulated by whichever interests are behind specific media production.

Promoting MIL education in the Arab region represents a major part of DCMF’s mission and the centre will continue to foster the growth of this subject in the future.

Addressing the problems which continue to drive people apart is essential if we are to avoid the tragic events witnessed in Gaza in 2014 and Paris in 2015, among others. 

Promoting cross-cultural dialogue, encouraging people to discuss their differences in a tolerant and open environment, and helping our youth all over the world to understand the democratic values and principles associated with media freedom will help the global community address the growing threat of impunity and help towards achieving the mission of allowing journalists to work safely and securely.

The centre hopes this report will contribute to the constructive debate on the protection of media freedom and to enhance the role of free media as a strategic source of sustainable development and basic human rights, as it looks out for its fourth report to tackle in depth other issues that strive to achieve a better environment for a freer media to prevail.

Click here to read the English report in PDF format

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