To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what (a) correspondence and (b) discussions her officials have had with (i) European partners and (ii) others (A) regarding respect for the professional independence and rights of journalists, media professionals and associated personnel during armed conflict and (B) to obtain universal compliance with relevant obligations under international law to end impunity and prosecute those responsible for serious violations of international law against such persons; and if she will make a statement.
The Government are committed to promoting freedom of expression worldwide and to defending and protecting the professional independence and right of journalists and media professionals to work without fear of reprisal during armed conflict. Journalists, media professionals and associated personnel must be provided with the protection that they need under domestic and international law.
Last month, at the World Press Freedom Day, my right hon. Friend the Minister for Trade, Investment and Foreign Affairs, Ian McCartney, reaffirmed our commitment to promote, defend, and protect the professional independence and right of journalists and media professionals to work without fear of reprisal. He also spoke out against impunity for crimes deliberately targeted against journalists. To intentionally direct an attack against civilians not taking direct part in hostilities is a war crime as defined under Article 8 (2)(b)(i) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Under Article 79 of Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions, journalists are regarded as civilians, provided they do not take action adversely affecting their status. These provisions provide journalists, media professionals and associated personnel with protection under international law. The key challenge for the international community is to ensure that international law is respected and enforced in order to provide a strong deterrent.
To assist this process, and raise awareness of the violence directed against journalists in conflict zones, the UK and its EU partners tabled UN Security Council Resolution 1738 in December 2006. The resolution condemned violence directed against journalists in conflict zones. It called on parties involved in conflict to stop deliberate attacks against journalists and respect them as civilians under international law.
In addition to our discussions over the tabling of Resolution 1738, we also discussed this matter with outside experts at the meeting of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Advisory Panel on Freedom of Expression on