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Human Rights Council - 26th Regular Session

Panel Discussion on the Safety of Journalists

Statement by Australia
11 June 2014


Australia welcomes the Council’s initiatives to promote and protect journalists.

Australia shares the Panel’s concerns about the risks and challenges faced by journalists. Ensuring the safety of journalists goes directly to protecting both the fundamental right to freedom of opinion and expression and the ability of people to be informed and to participate actively in society.

Australia is concerned about repression of journalists in many countries. Of particular concern is the current case of Australian journalist Peter Greste and other media professionals who remain detained in Egypt facing serious charges of collusion with a terrorist organisation. Australia does not accept that Mr Greste was doing anything other than performing normal journalistic activities at the time of his arrest. We have advocated consistently with the Egyptian Government for Mr Greste’s early release, and we look to the Egyptian Government to resolve this matter in a satisfactory way as soon as possible.

Journalists are often at the forefront in shedding light on human rights violations and may risk their own lives doing so. Their monitoring of events can avert human rights violations and increase respect for the rule of law. Journalists can play an essential role accounting for the conduct of both law enforcement officials and protestors in demonstrations.

Affirming that individuals enjoy the same human rights online as they do offline, Australia would be interested in the Panel’s views on how states might protect the safety of citizen journalists and journalism in the online world.