Sunday, November 2, 2014
How far will journalists go to provide the best possible reports from their region? How are they hindered or even targeted in the struggle? How reliable are the things we see? What could contribute to stopping intimidation and violence? How can offenders be punished? These questions were at the heart of the debate that Free Press Unlimited organised on 2 November 2014; the first international day against impunity of crimes against journalists.

It is timeless: regimes, groupings, terrorists who make it impossible for a journalist to do his job. But violence and intimidation against journalists are becoming more refined and more visible to the public. Journalists have even become explicit terrorist (IS) targets themselves. Terrible images appear, which at the same time make clear that we do not get to see everything.

Journalists cannot do their jobs everywhere. As a result, we do not know all the facts, only the interpretations of those facts. And far-reaching decisions are made based on those interpretations.

Debate: Is the pen still more powerful than the sword?

On Sunday afternoon, 2 November 2014, Free Press Unlimited and De Balie organised a debate on journalism in the Middle East, led by Frénk van der Linden.

Participants were:

  • Sander van Hoorn, NOS Middle East correspondent
  • Lionel Veer, ambassador at UNESCO and former Dutch human rights ambassador
  • Dana Asaa, Iraqi journalist, Managing Director of Media Academy Iraq and Editor in Chief of Awene.com
  • Leon Willems, Director of Free Press Unlimited

The reason for this debate is the resolution against impunity of crimes against journalists which was recently adopted by the UN. By doing so, the UN “unambiguously condemns all attacks and violence, such as torturing, unlawful executions, enforced disappearances and random detention, as well as intimidation and harassment, against journalists and media employees both in conflict zones and in situations free of conflict.”