“Tell them we will be behind them,” the secretary-general said. “I have big admiration and respect for their courage.” Ban also told the delegation that he would do his best to ensure implementation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1738, which was adopted in December 2006 and affirms the rights of journalists in conflict zones.
“We were pleased to have such a constructive discussion and pleased by the secretary-general’s commitment to the rights of journalists and freedom of the press,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said later.
The CPJ delegation presented the secretary-general with the organization’s annual report,
Attacks on the Press, and raised the pressing issue of impunity in crimes against journalists. The delegation included Simon, CPJ board member Norman Pearlstine of the Carlyle Group, fellow board member Mark Whitaker of Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, and CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. U.N. spokeswoman Michele Montas also attended.
The CPJ delegation urged the secretary-general to speak out publicly about specific violations of Resolution 1738. The resolution urges “all parties involved in situations of armed conflict to respect the professional independence and rights of journalists, media professionals, and associated personnel as civilians.”
CPJ also asked the secretary-general to take the lead in denouncing the murders of journalists. More than 450 journalists have been slain in the last 15 years, CPJ research shows, and 85 percent of the slayings were committed with complete impunity. This record has a devastating effect on the flow of information and ideas, directly undermining the fundamental right to seek and receive information embodied in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, CPJ noted.
In particular, the delegation told the secretary-general of its desire to see a complete and transparent investigation into the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovksaya, who will be honored posthumously with the Cano/UNESCO award on World Press Freedom Day, May 3.