UNESCO, in partnership with the Asser Institute and Free Press Unlimited, co-organized the second edition of the Forum of Legal Actors on freedom of expression and safety of journalists from 4 to 6 October 2022 in The Hague, Netherlands.
The Forum brought together judges, prosecutors, lawyers, academics and representatives of legal institutions to exchange views and share best practices on specific topics related to the protection of freedom of expression and the safety of journalists, drawing on global, regional and national experiences across Europe, Latin American and Africa.
The event featured presentations by high-level speakers, leading specialists and scholars, addressing the issues topical for Francophone Africa and Latin America, thus providing for a live platform that enabled the two regional groups to establish channels for the exchanges of experiences.
The sessions analysed current trends and emerging challenges of freedom of expression, safety and protection of journalists, the role and independence of the judiciary, ways to improve cooperation between CSO actors, judiciary and media, as well as the regional jurisprudence from Africa and Latin America on issues related to freedom of expression and safety of journalists.
The forum provided an occasion to present UNESCO’s initiative, Training security forces and the judiciary on freedom of expression. Within this flagship project, since 2013, more than 24,000 judicial actors and 11,500 law enforcement agents in over 160 countries in Asia, Europe, Africa and the Arab region, have been trained on freedom of expression and the safety of journalists. These trainings have been done through a series of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), on-the-ground workshops, and the publication of a number of toolkits and guidelines.
The movie screening of the short documentary ‘Killing the truth” showing cases of killed journalists that are still unresolved, raised very strong and emotional reactions by all the participants on the issue of impunity.
According to UNESCO’s observatory of killed journalists, over 1,200 journalists have been killed between 2006 and 2021, with close to 9 out of 10 of these cases remaining judicially unresolved.
As general recommendation, the participants expressed the need to tackle the issue of impunity with a holistic approach through involving all key players and raising awareness and protecting the judiciary.
The conference built upon the first edition of the Forum of Legal Actors, created during the 2020 World Press Freedom Day and held online in December 2020. It is a joint initiative of UNESCO, Asser Institute and Free Press Unlimited supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and UNESCO Multi-Donor Programme on Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists (MDP).