Publication Date: October 2017
Research and Editorial Team: EFJ
Safety protocol with 16 points for journalists covering conflict zones

This digest has been produced in cooperation with the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)

The Journalists Union of Turkey (TGS) in partnership with the European and International Federation of Journalists (EFJ-IFJ) successfully organised a 2-day Safety Workshop in Diyarbakir (Southeast of Turkey) on 03-04 October 2017 for local and visiting journalists regularly covering conflict zones in the region.

This workshop was organised in the framework of the IFJ-EFJ-TGS project called #GazetecilikSuçDegildir / #JournalismisNOTaCrime, a campaign to set journalism free, develop trade union rights and defend freedom of expression in Turkey which receives the financial support of the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) Program managed by the European Commission.

30 journalists and media workers from the following media organisations attended the safety workshop : Cumhuriyet, AFP, Reuters, Sputnik, Özgürüz, Tigris, Güneydogu Ekspres, Yenigün, Evrensel, Arti Gerçek, Mezopotamya Haber Ajansi, Sujin, Jinha and Güncel newspaper. 

“This is the first training organised by our union to tackle safety issues and post-trauma of journalists covering conflict zones and we intend to organise more of them. When journalists do not have safe working conditions, the public is also deprived from its right to have access to fact-based information. When we serve the public good, we should make safety concerns a top priority because covering news is only possible with living journalists”, said Gökhan Durmuş (TGS President).

The participants were trained on personal security, managing high risk environments, digital security, and post-traumatic stress disorder by three specialised trainers based in Istanbul selected by the newly opened TGS Diyarbakir solidarity office. “We aim to unite journalists and media workers in the region  in order to underline the importance of risk management, safety and post-trauma issues in the profession”, said Mahmut Oral from TGS Diyarbakir office.

“Too many journalists ignore risks on the grounds that these risks are faced by everyone, and ignore simple measures that can be taken to significantly improve the safety of the media. This action will improve the safety of journalists and raise awareness on the working conditions for reporters in conflict zones”, said Mehmet Koksal (EFJ-IFJ project coordinator).

The participants of the workshop issued the first Safety Protocol for journalists covering news in the region containing the following 16 points :

  1. Make life protection your top priority, protecting your life is always more important than the news coverage or the materials
  2. Wear protective equipment (helmet, life jacket, gas mask) visibly on the ground
  3. Follow regular and systematic professional training about news coverage in hostile environment
  4. Get last updates, briefings and advices from experiences local reporters before leaving
  5. Avoid staying alone in conflict zones as much as possible
  6. Pay attention to remaining explosive after the fights and to the mining fields at the borders
  7. Share your daily locations and programs with your local union branch or at least one colleague
  8. Keep your distance from conflict zones before making live coverage for TV and web
  9. Remain cautious when unknown individuals offers you news opportunities because of kidnapping attempts
  10. Never reply to provocative actions from authorities or groups and keep your distance
  11. Make sure that any press card, symbol, professional identification materials are clearly visible for the authorities or any groups
  12. Physical follow-up is as important as getting the news, make sure you eat and drink regularly, have enough sleeping and resting time
  13. Never stay alone after traumatic experiences, share your story and feeling at least with one person
  14. Stay active with positive activities (sport, entertainment,…) after coverage of traumatic experiences
  15. Make a break and ask for relocation, even for a short period, after coverage of traumatic experiences
  16. Ask for professional help when post-trauma effect are lasting for a long time

Following the trainings, the participants received a certificate of attendance and TGS Diyarbakir office will select local safety contact members to answer safety questions from local or international journalists on assignment in the region. These safety advisors will work with the office to co-ordinate the monitoring and advising of media and journalists on safety and responding rapidly and effectively to incidents as they arise.

Tags: Turkey Safety of journalists Media freedom

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