ICRC calls for urgent action on safety of journalists in armed conflict situations

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

THE International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has called for urgent action on safety of journalists operating in armed-conflict situations.

Mr Aliyu Dawobe, Public Relations Officer of the ICRC, made the call in Kano on Friday at a two-day
workshop for media humanitarian reporting in a paper he presented on Journalist and International Humanitarian Law (IHL).

Dawobe said says that most times journalists working in armed conflict places, themselves end up becoming victims.

He said that journalist must be protected and respected as they are protected under the IHL.

”Because of the very nature of their work, they are inevitably exposed to the dangers inherent in military operations.

”Instead of fleeing combat, they seek it out. It is often said that the first casualty of war is truth.

”Accurate, impartial media reports conveyed from conflict zones serve a fundamental public interest: in the information era, images and news can have a decisive impact on the outcome of armed conflicts.

“All detained journalists must be treated humanely and with dignity in all circumstances.

“They must be protected against any act of violence, as well as against intimidation, insults and must be guaranteed decent conditions of detention,’’ he said.

Dawobe said that journalist need to informed on how they are protected by the Law.

“Journalists who also directly participate in hostilities lose their protection against attack and may be targeted.

”Journalists need to cover events more independently and also avoid contributing to war propaganda.

”Journalists who belong to the military press are combatants and must be also protected,” he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the the IHL is a set of rules that seek to limit the effects of armed conflict.

It lays out the responsibilities of states and non-state armed groups during an armed conflict. It defines, among others: the rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian aid in armed conflict.

The IHL offers protection to all journalists as CIVILIANS.

War correspondents are also entitled to the Prisoners of War status upon capture in an international armed conflict.

Members of Military Press are combatants and offered protection as such under IHL. (NAN)