Amid deaths of journalists in Ukraine war, India condemns violence against media in conflict zones

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NEW DELHI: Media freedom and the safety of journalists remains under threat around the world, including in situations on the agenda of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

“A free media is fundamental to creating societies which are democratic and free. We condemn the killings of journalists in conflict and non-conflict zones,” said Counsellor at the UN Vidhisha Maitra at the UNSC Arria-formula meeting on the protection of journalists.

Journalists and media workers play a critical role in ensuring transparency and accountability from those in power, often at great personal risk.

“Media gives us access to reliable information which shapes peace and security. We strongly condemn physical violence against them and threats of violence,” Mitra added.

While states have the primary responsibility to ensure the safety of journalists and prevent impunity, the UNSC should consider how best it can promote and ensure accountability efforts for crimes committed against journalists, media professionals and associated personnel in situations on its agenda.

“In India, our Constitution and law guarantee right to freedom of expression and information. We have adhered to and fully support the Geneva Convention that established international legal standards for humanitarian treatment in war,” Mitra added.

The ongoing war in Ukraine has placed journalists at grave risk. Journalists face arrests, attacks and threats in Russia and Ukraine. The Committee to Protect Journalists has confirmed that at least seven journalists have died while covering the war: Brent Renaud, Maks Levin, Mantas Kvedaravičius, Oksana Baulina, Oleksandra Kuvshynova, Pierre Zakrzewski and Yevhenii Sakun. Several journalists including from Russia, Ukraine, Denmark and the UK have been injured and some Ukrainian journalists have been reported as missing, possibly abducted.

“It is imperative to reaffirm our approach to zero tolerance of terrorism in all its manifestations. Journalists too should be careful to not play up propaganda which can build up terror,” Mitra added.

Meanwhile, the Security Council Resolution 2222 (2015) condemns all violations and abuses committed against journalists. It affirms that a free media constitutes one of the essential foundations of a democratic society, and can contribute to the protection of civilians. It recalls that journalists, engaged in dangerous professional missions in areas of armed conflict, shall be considered as civilians and respected and protected as such.