As the UN agency mandated to protect freedom of expression and with an active role in promoting journalists' safety worldwide, UNESCO brings In Their Press Vests to the World Humanitarian Summit Expo in Istanbul to advocate for journalists’ safety during crisis situations.
In Their Press Vests, is a 7-minute virtual reality 360o video produced in Syria by UNESCO, in partnership with The Association for the Support of Free Media and the Syrian News Agency SMART, with the support of the Government of Finland, bringing insights into the everyday risks that journalists endure in conflict zones.
The scale and number of attacks against journalists and media workers is disquieting as evident in the numerous reports on the killing of journalists issued by UNESCO and several non-governmental and professional organizations worldwide. While trying to provide the public with information during crisis, journalists, media workers and social media producers are frequently casualties of conflict, as well as direct targets of attacks which in most cases go unpunished. When crimes against journalists continue with impunity, a vicious cycle is fed, posing a serious threat to freedom of expression.
Attacks against journalists are also perpetrated in non-conflict situations. Threats of prosecution, arrest, imprisonment, denial of journalistic access and sexual harassment continue to be tactics to silence journalism. The threats are also digital as journalists become hostage of intimidations that imposes on journalists a fear of reprisal.
Despite these dangers, the work that journalists, bloggers and social media producers do to cover the news in conflict zones is vital to build a plural and diverse media. But more attention needs to be paid to their safety in order to provide the grounds for freedom of expression.