The situation in Iraq has induced the Damocles Network and Reporters without Borders to remind the belligerent parties of the principles governing international humanitarian law, which protect journalists and media personnel in cases involving armed conflict. To this end, the two organisations have issued a "Declaration" that was adopted at the end of the workshop session on this subject held on 20 January. They urge all press freedom organisations to join them in this initiative.
Whereas the freedom of the media and the free and unhindered exercise of journalism are essential in order to guarantee the right of individuals and of the public to be informed under all circumstances ;
Having noted with concern that journalists and news media personnel are increasingly subject to attack during armed conflicts ;
Being aware that propaganda is an integral part of every armed conflict ;
Recalling that the media must not be exploited for the purpose of inciting anyone to commit unlawful acts of war, genocide, or acts of violence ;
That journalists and other information professionals are deemed to be civilians and that, as such, they are protected by international humanitarian law ;
That media equipment and facilities are deemed to be civilian objects subject to the protection inherent in this statute, unless it has been determined that they are being used for military purposes ;
That journalists and media equipment and facilities must be subject neither to attacks nor to reprisals.
Do hereby agree as to the following :
1. The morale of the adversary’s civilian population does not constitute a military objective.
2. Media used for propaganda purposes do not constitute military objectives ; they do not fulfil the conditions of "effective contribution to military action" and of "definite military advantage" laid down in Article 52, paragraph 2 of the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 (Protocol I). Consequently, media used for propaganda purposes shall not be attacked, totally or partially destroyed, captured or neutralised and their broadcasts shall not be subjected to jamming.
3. Media shall enjoy immunity from direct attack, unless they are being exploited for the purpose of inciting people to commit illegal acts of warfare, genocide, or acts of violence.
4. It is prohibited to launch any attack against media equipment and facilities used for military purposes which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated.
5. During an attack on media equipment and facilities used for military purposes, all feasible precautions must be taken with a view to avoiding, and in any event to minimising, loss of civilian life, injury to civilians and damage to civilian objects.
6. In the event of an attack against media equipment and facilities used for military purposes that may affect the civilian population, an effective and definite warning must be given in due time and by effective means, unless circumstances do not permit it.
Drawn up in Paris on 20 January 2003 in French and English, each text being equally authentic.
List of signatories :
Reporters without Borders
World Press Freedom Committee