The Initiative on Impunity and the Rule of Law

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POLITICAL ASPECTS STUDY—

WILLIAM HORSLEY


A Joint Project of the Centre for Law, Justice and Journalism (CLJJ), City University London, and the centre for Freedom of the Media (CFOM), University of Sheffield

William Horsley, International Director, Centre for Freedom of the Media, University of Sheffield and Visiting Fellow, Centre for Law, Justice and Journalism, City University London

Presented at the Working Conference “Safety and Protection of Journalists: A Responsibility for the World”, at the University Building, City University London, on 1 June 2011

The Working Conference website is www.cfom.org.uk.

This Political Aspects Study, together with the Legal Instruments Study and other research and background materials are posted on the Working Conference website of the Initiative on Impunity and the Rule of Law

Full transcripts and texts of the Statements and Interviews which make up the primary sources for this Study can also be read on www.cfom.org.uk

The Directors of the Impunity Initiative wish to thank the sponsors who made the research and the Working Conference possible—the Open Society Foundation; the Norwegian PEN organisation and the Swedish National Commission for UNESCO.

Final compilation 5 June 2011


About the Impunity Initiative

Developing legal and political remedies for violence against journalists and judicial impunity

The Initiative on Impunity and the Rule of Law is a global project of the Centre for Freedom of the Media (CFOM) at the University of Sheffield and the Centre for Law, Justice and Journalism (CLJJ) at City University, London.
Our aims are to provide an independent platform to assess the effectiveness of existing legal, political and institutional safeguards against violence directed at journalists because of their professional work; and to present the case for more effective international mechanisms to counter such crimes of violence and to end impunity.
Journalists play a vital role in providing reliable information on matters of public interest and their work can expose them to special risks of physical violence and arbitrary prosecution.
As documented by UNESCO, the annual toll of targeted killings of journalist, and the effective impunity related to crimes of violence against them, have risen to historically high levels, causing serious concern among journalists, jurists, human rights organisations and governments. States are obliged under international law to respect and protect individuals exercising the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and to ensure that those rights are upheld. Those obligations also apply in times of conflict.
Intimidation and violence directed at journalists because of their role in monitoring the exercise of state powers and matters of public interest, as well as failures to investigate and prosecute such crimes promptly and effectively, have been identified by United Nations bodies and other relevant organisations as matters that require a coordinated response by States.
The Initiative is conducting collaborative research and consultation among academic and legal experts, national government officials, Inter-Governmental Organisations, and civil society and media representatives, to advance our aims.
Our initial research consists of three strands, focused principally but not exclusively on the European area:-

  1. A Paper on International Legal Instruments, international case law and the execution of ECHR court judgements, including analysis of the current gaps in enforcement of states’ commitments, and the extent of relevant rights and obligations in law.
  2. A Political Aspects Study, analysing the nature of alleged climates of impunity in terms of political and judicial processes, the impact of formal and informal channels used to seek compliance with international norms and commitments, and alternative future courses of action at national and international level.
  3. A survey of NGOs directly involved in combating impunity in journalism.
    Phase Two of the Initiative’s programme of research and policy development is expected to begin during 2011. It will construct a wider international platform of academic and legal expertise, in collaboration with governmental and non-governmental bodies, to develop and seek acceptance for the enhanced political and legal instruments needed to realise the Initiative’s founding aims.

More information on the work of the Initiative is available on www.cfom.org.uk

Directors of the Initiative
William Horsley, International Director of CFOM, University of Sheffield, and Coordinator of the Impunity Initiative
Prof Jackie Harrison, Chairman of the Centre for Freedom of the Media, University of Sheffield
Prof Howard Tumber, Director of Journalism, Centre for Law, Justice and Journalism, City University, London
Prof Lorna Woods, Director of Law, Centre for Law, Justice and Journalism, City University, London
Research Team
Dr Carmen Draghici, Lecturer in Law, The City Law School, City University, London
Dr Dimitris Xenos, Researcher, The City Law School, City University, London
William Horsley, International Director of CFOM, Department of Journalism Studies, University of Sheffield and Visiting Fellow, CLJJ, City University London
Advisory Committee Members
Mark Ellis, Director, International Bar Association
Jo Glanville, Editor of Index on Censorship
Miklos Haraszti, Adjunct Professor at the School of International and Public Affairs of Columbia Law School, New York, USA; former OSCE Representative on Freedom of Media
Lord Frank Judd, Trustee of Saferworld and Member of the UK House of Lords
Edward Mortimer, Senior Vice-President of the Salzburg Global Seminar and former chief speechwriter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan
Peter Noorlander, Legal Director, Media Legal Defence Initiative
Rodney Pinder, Director, International News Safety Institute

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