Xx Jan 2022 – “Aman360” is a new project for the safety of investigative journalists in MENA. The project is a partnership between UNESCO and ARIJ, with funding through UNESCO’s Multi Donor Program on Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists (MDP) and as part of a project titled: “Enhancing the Safety of Journalists in Africa and the Arab Region” funded by Denmark. The project is to be implemented in cooperation with IFJ.
On average, every five days a journalist is killed for bringing information to the public.
Promoting the safety of journalists and combating impunity for those who attack them are central within UNESCO’s support for press freedom on all media platforms. And is a top priority to ARIJ and IFJ.
The “Aman360” project aims to create and nurture a cognizant foundation for the safety of journalists among the investigative journalism community in the Arab world to ensure that free press remains as a powerful medium, and the journalists can continue to play their role as watchdogs of justice and in holding those responsible accountable.
This project offers a new holistic and innovative approach to enhance the safety and resilience of Arab investigative journalists, media partners and organisations and other relevant stakeholders in the MENA region with focus on Algeria, Iraq, Mauritania, Palestine, Tunis, and Yemen.
Guidelines and best practises will be calibrated to and developed for the Arab region in line with international standards. Comprehensive one-to-one clinics will be created to cover five main domains; Physical, digital, psychosocial, legal and career development. Training workshops and webinars will be conducted to investigative journalists, journalists, editors, coaches, relevant media professionals and media organisations who support the investigative journalism ecosystem. A pilot 24/7 hotline service will be available to respond to any urgent request from investigative journalists who have participated in safety clinics, physical safety workshops and working with ARIJ on investigations during the project period.
Aman360 was built on the rising need for skills and knowledge to undertake risk assessments, precautionary actions and preventive measures in addition to mitigation planning to foster a safe-media environment. During the last 15 years, IFJ considered the MENA region 10 times as most dangerous in the world for journalists’ safety, due to the number of journalists killed, injured and or forced to flee their homes and countries. The region is also considered to be among the worst in providing legal and regulatory guarantees for independent journalism to be able to flourish. Journalists and media face prosecution, jailing, closure, blocking or starvation of the local market because of their critical reporting. The Covid 19 pandemic exacerbated the crises facing journalists and the media globally and especially in the region.
ARIJ and IFJ have jointly initiated the first step to foster a safe-media environment through launching a comprehensive self-paced course in the Arabic language on Safety training on March 5, 2021 by Safety trainer Abduallah Maksour, on ARIJ Academy which tackled new challenges within the pandemic fieldwork. Eleven sessions were provided on the principles of journalistic professional safety and the procedures that journalists should follow before, during and after their assignments. It covered skills on pre-assignment planning, measuring risks and coping mechanisms, assignment location selection, communication with media institutions, dealing with checkpoints, dealing with kidnapping and its stages, covering demonstrations and gatherings, in addition to mobility skills in conflict areas. The self-paced course became a prerequisite starting March 2021 to all Arab investigative journalists wishing to work with ARIJ with a certificate provided upon completion of the course. Since its launch, a total of 400+ journalists have studied the course.
As the mandated agency within the UN that promotes freedom of expression and of the press, UNESCO has taken the lead in coordinating the development and implementation of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, working closely together with other stakeholders including Member States, UN agencies, NGOs, academia, and media practitioners. In the past years, UNESCO has produced a number of resources to strengthen the safety of journalists including most recently a MOOC developed in cooperation with the International Women’s Media Foundation and the Knight Centre at Texas University titled “How to report safely: Strategies for women journalists and their allies”, in addition to webinars and briefs on specific threats facing journalists, from demonstrations, to pandemics- including Covid-19, to coverage of elections, and others. The organisation has also worked with other groups responsible for providing a safer environment for journalists, including security officers, judges and prosecutors, through advocacy and capacity building. All the available material and resources can be accessed here.
ARIJ is the leading mother-network for regional investigative journalism efforts that has been on the ground for 15 years. Since 2006, it nurtured a culture of investigative journalism for Arab journalists in 16 different countries and now it strives to deepen the ecosystem of accountable investigative journalism in the Arab world. As a training institution, it trained more than 3500 journalists and supported the production of over 650 quality investigations.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is the world’s largest journalists’ organisation representing 600,000 media professionals through national journalists’ unions and associations in 146 different countries. For more than 90 years, the IFJ has been working to improve the rights, standards and conditions of journalists through building strong representative journalists’ organisations able to campaign on behalf of their members, defend their rights and raise professional standards.
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