Armed Conflict: Journalists

Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs written question – answered on 7th June 2007.

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Photo of Don Foster Don Foster Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what measures have been introduced to ensure the UK's compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1738, on the protection of journalists in armed conflict; and if she will make a statement.

Photo of Kim Howells Kim Howells Minister of State (Middle East), Foreign & Commonwealth Office

The Government are committed to promoting freedom of expression and the media worldwide. Journalists, media professionals and associated personnel must be provided with the protection that they need under domestic and international law.

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 (UNSCR) 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.

No specific new measures were required of the UK to implement UNSCR 1738. UK military forces are already required to act in compliance with the provisions of international humanitarian law relating to the protection of civilians, including journalists, to which the resolution refers.

Funding is available to support measures to protect journalists in armed conflict through a new human rights strand of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Global Opportunities Fund. For example, we have funded work in Colombia, with the International News Safety Institute, aimed at creating a culture of safety in journalism and reducing the risks journalists face at work.

The UK regularly speaks out when journalists are murdered, attacked or harassed. We raise cases with foreign governments, urging compliance with international law. For example, we engaged with the Russian Federation following the death of Anna Politkovskaya.

The Government will continue to tackle the targeting of journalists. They are an essential component of healthy, democratic societies. They need and deserve protection for their role.

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