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Russia - Ingushetia27 September 2002

British freelance journalist killed in battle zone

Reporters Without Borders today hailed the courage of British freelance cameraman Roderick John Scott, killed yesterday in an exchange of shots between a group of Chechen fighters and Russian soldiers in the Caucasian republic of Ingushetia, adjoining Chechnya. But at the same time, the organisation deplored the conditions in which most freelance journalists work, and it again called on news organisations to adopt the charter on the security of journalists in zones of conflict or tension and to implement its principles.

Scottís body was found by Russian forces among those of Chechen rebels killed in the Ingush village of Galashki. He had been following a group of Chechen fighters in the Pankissi Gorge, in Georgia, and was to have accompanied them into Chechnya. A Georgian student who was acting as his interpreter was reportedly also found dead in the same place.

Scott was one of the few freelance journalists to cover the Chechen conflict. He had been doing so for several years, often working for Frontline TV, a television news agency. Frontline TV director Vaughan Smith called Scott ìa courageous young journalist who thought the western press was not covering the war in Chechnya in an appropriate fashion. ìHe was aware of the risks he was taking and knew it was worth it,î Smith said.

Although there is no such thing as zero risk in a war zone, the charter on the security of journalists in zones of conflict or tension contains a series of proposals centred on the following eight principles: commitment by news media, government authorities and journalists to systematically seek ways to measure and limit the risks run, participation of journalists entirely of their own free will, field experience, prior preparation, adequate equipment, insurance covering illness, repatriation, disability and death, psychological support and legal protection for reporters.

Aware of the financial constraints affecting many freelance journalists, Reporters Without Borders recommends a very affordable insurance policy offered the IPS Bellini-Gutenberg group. When freelance photo-journalists and reporters are on a working trip abroad or in France, they are covered for up to 90 consecutive days. The policy has three options: option 1 (for Ä3.00 a day) provides assistance; options 2 and 3 (for Ä6.00 and Ä7.50 a day) provide assistance and a lump sum in the event of accidental death or disability resulting from a mishap while on mission. The lump sum is larger in option 3.

More information on the security charter and this insurance policy are available on the site.

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