SWEDEN/AUSTRIA - Press release
Recently freed Swedish journalists Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson contribute to UN Meeting
Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye, the two Swedish freelance journalists recently pardoned from a 11-year prison sentence in Ethiopia, will participate in the UN Inter-Agency Meeting on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity on 22-23 November in Vienna.
”We want to use our energy and experience to strengthen the legal protection of journalist colleagues who are at risk ending up in the same kind of situation we were in. We want to do something constructive of our time in the desert and our 14 months of hell in Kality prison. We want to make a real difference to our colleagues, aiming at the highest political level”, says Martin Schibbye.
The “UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity” was developed at the initiative of the UN specialized agency UNESCO and endorsed on 14 April this year at the highest UN level.
At the meeting in Vienna participants will formulate a UN Implementation Strategy for 2013-14, with concrete, time-bound and measurable results for each main action proposed in the Plan.
”We are of course very pleased that Johan and Martin will contribute with their valuable experience to this meeting. This type of meeting often tends to be rather theoretical, so Johan’s and Martin’s stories will provide participants with a reality check and serve as a tangible reminder of how important it is to take this agenda forward”, says Mats Djurberg, Secretary-General at the Swedish National Commission for UNESCO.
The Plan of Action (PoA) aims to improve cooperation between the UN agencies in the field of safety of journalists and the fight against impunity; in cases of journalists’ murders, the majority remain unsolved and unpunished.
The PoA contains several concrete measures to improve journalists’ safety; including the establishment of a coordinating mechanism between UN agencies and other intergovernmental organizations at international and regional level.
”The testimony of Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye is a reminder that the protection of journalists is far from being assured, especially when they are in high-risk areas or cover subjects that are sensitive or troublesome for the authorities. The UN Security Council’s adoption of Resolution 1738 in 2006 was a step forward but it was not translated into better protection in practice. The RWB annual round-up’s figures show that, on the contrary, the situation is getting worse. The Action Plan must therefore not be just one more document, but must lead to the creation of effective mechanisms for protection and for combatting impunity, and must take account of the need to protect bloggers and netizens as well”, says Christophe Deloire, Reporters Without Borders´ international secretary-general.