UNITED NATIONS — Nearly 50 countries are co-sponsoring a U.N. resolution that condemns attacks against journalists and the failure to punish those responsible for killing, torturing, kidnapping and arbitrarily arresting media workers.
The draft General Assembly resolution circulated Friday urges the 193 U.N. member states "to do their utmost to prevent violence, threats and attacks" against the media. It calls for speedy and independent investigations of alleged attacks and prosecution of alleged perpetrators and those who aid them or cover up their crimes.
The draft also urges the immediate release of members of the media who have been taken hostage and are victims of "enforced disappearances."
It expresses deep concern at the increased number of journalists and media workers who have been killed in recent years "as a direct result of their profession." It stresses that "impunity for attacks against journalists remains one of the biggest challenges to the safety of journalists."
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 42 journalists have been killed so far in 2014 while 211 were imprisoned in 2013 and 456 have been exiled since 2008.
The draft resolution must first be approved by the General Assembly's human rights committee and then by the assembly itself.
Unlike Security Council resolutions, General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding but if adopted they do reflect world opinion.
The proposed resolution expresses "deep concern" at the growing threat to the safety of journalists from terrorist groups, criminal organizations and other non-state actors.
It stresses that "journalists, media professionals and associated personnel engaged in dangerous professional missions in areas of armed conflict shall be considered as civilians and shall be respected and protected as such."