Training security forces and the judiciary on freedom of expression
Freedom of expression and safety of journalists as well as ending impunity for crimes and attacks committed against them are of vital importance to ensure the rule of law and human rights more broadly. UNESCO is therefore working with security forces and the judiciary to support their role in protecting and ensuring an environment conducive to freedom of expression, access to information and other fundamental freedoms.
Without a minimum level of public order, citizens and journalists cannot fully enjoy their right to free expression. Security forces must therefore protect journalists against attacks by those who seek to prevent them from informing the public. They must ensure that journalists can access areas and information about matters of public interest. Law enforcement officers are not always familiar with the importance of right to freedom of expression and how to deal with journalists in a way that respects the freedom of the press. They are also often insufficiently equipped to prevent criminally or politically motivated attacks against journalists by violent or extremist groups. UNESCO is sensitizing security forces on the importance of establishing a good level of communication and transparency with the media, as well as the advantages of constructing professional relationships with journalists. Building these relationships can also help keep the population informed during critical periods such as elections.
The judiciary plays an essential role in the protection of freedom of expression, freedom of press and access to information. It can in particular ensure the safety of journalists, in terms of prevention, protection against, and prosecution of crimes and attacks against journalists.
UNESCO’s training programmes targeting security force members, judges and members of the judiciary are being implemented both online and on the ground, including in Latin America, Africa and the Arab States. Since 2013, UNESCO and its partners have trained 23,000 judges, judicial actors and civil society representatives from around the world on international standards on freedom of expression, public access to information and safety of journalists.
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