UNESCO - Protecting safety of journalists online and offline
05 December 2016 - A Pre-event on in Guadalajara,Mexico
The following are the outputs of the real-time captioning taken during the Eleventh Annual Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Jalisco, Mexico, from 5 to 9 December 2016. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the event, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.
>> MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. I'm Carlos Tejada and I come from Mexico. She was delivering the Loreal Awards for Women in Science, so it wasn't possible for her to be with us now. So I'm here in her representation, very pleased to be part of this table that will be discussing and reflecting on topics that are very important and that are closely related to governance and Internet.
The topic is the safety of journalists that we're going to be talking about their safety within the Internet. So I would like also to mention that UNESCO is made up of five major sectors, and among them we have the areas of communications that includes freedom of expression. Of course, freedom of the press, so UNESCO has been extremely active in this domain for the 71 years of its existence.
It has been one of the U.N. agencies that has always been in favor of the inclusion of freedom of expression, freedom of the press and mechanisms as important as the 2030 agenda for sustainable development.
One of the successes of this work was to make access to information and freedom of expression be part of the objectives for sustainable development as objective 16, specifically with respect to the target or the goal 16.10. So this table will be undoubtedly one of the areas that will be discussing these objectives, and of course we're going to be touching upon freedom of the press and, of course, the construction of solid institutions.
Of course, we're going to be talking about the digital environments which imposes upon us new challenges, new challenges to journalists and I would like to take this opportunity to present to you the translation into Spanish of the U.N. report about how to develop digital security for journalists. I will now introduce the members of our panel, and we have a panel of experts also from different backgrounds. I'm very proud to be among them.
I will introduce each of our panelists, and then I will leave the floor to them. I will start with Guy Berger, who is the director of freedom of expression and media development of the U.N. He is the key response of UNESCO for freedom of the press and safety of journalists, Internet freedom and, of course, independence and pluralism in the media as well as the training of journalists.
Before joining UNESCO he was the head of the School of Journalism in Rhodes University in South Africa. He's also writing for “The Mail” and “The Guardian.” He also has a Ph.D. in philosophy.
Mr. Lanza in charge of the inter‑American commission on human rights for the defense of the press and he's been a professor and adviser of the union of journalists. Lanza was co‑founder for the center of archives and access to public information and also he's a member of the Freedom of Expression Committee and access to information of the regional alliance for the freedom of expression and information as well as a working group of the inter‑American system for human rights.
Marta Duran hasn't joined us yet.
To our left is Erika Smith, part of the women's rights teams for the association of progressive communication where he documents and supports strategies for gender issues associated to technology. Since 1990 she has trained women and civil organizations in the strategic and safe use of Internet.
Also to my left is Kim Pham, who is a member of the IREX initiative. He's responsible for supervising the implementation of IREX safety model combining digital and psychosocial safety. He looks to respond to journalists in a dangerous situation as well as human rights. He's also the co‑founder of access now, an NGO specialized in the cross roads between human rights and technology. In 2010 it was a runner‑up for the SACROF prize, and she has also studied microbiology from the University of California.
David Kaye. How do we pronounce your last name? He's a rapporteur of the United Nations and professor of international law in the University of California. Here's human rights, humanitarian as well as international laws regarding the use of force on the part of governments and accountability on the topic of human rights. He's founder of the International Justice Clinic, and he is an active member of the American Society of International Law.
Lastly, to my right is Julio Cesar who is the joint director of cases and fast reaction for the mechanism of protection of individual, the defense of human rights and journalists.
So I now yield the floor to Guy Berger, who will discuss the UNESCO approach about this topic.
>> GUY BERGER: I think a lot of people really know the subject very well, but I would like to say we did try harder for gender balance. There are some we can speakers that are still going to arrive. Please give us some credit for trying to be gender sensitive, because, of course, this question is also a question that impacts women and men in particular ways.
So I'm going to give an introduction to the panel, and then my colleagues will take it forward. If I can get this thing to work here. Okay. So when we're talking about safety of journalists, what we mean by journalists and I'm pleased to say UNESCO has a wide definition of journalists because it includes those people who are doing journalist who are not exactly journalists but contribute to journalism.
We use it as a short end to refer to media workers into those people on Facebook or some other social media platform doing journalism. The reason we look at these people is because journalism is what draws attack. If you're doing social media and telling about your pits or breakfast or holiday, nobody is going to object obsessively. If you do journalism, you can cause controversy and then people decide to attack you.
What women cover in this presentation is four topics in ten minutes. We're going to speak about the interface of safety online and offline and digit safety and then some research about safety because it's important that we understand this. Lastly, I'll mention some good practice and it will be an advertisement later on this week that my colleague, again, can run. Before I really start showing you the slides, I want to speak about the safety online and offline, because they're concerned with what's happening online with the Internet.
In the real word, people's lives are mixed. You don't live in or off the Internet, and you live a mixed life. If you do journalist it's not only or off of the Internet. We have to consider both aspects, and I think that's particularly important when we look at safety in a holistic way.
So last month UNESCO released the official statics for the past year and indeed the past ten years for journalists. And this is in a report collected by UNESCO by monitoring the killings of journalists around the world. Killings are the worst kind of attack because they're fatal and there's no coming back from death, and they probably have the biggest impact on the society and on journalism and journalists.
Here are the terrible figures if you look at this, ten years, 827 journalists killed. That's a figure, but if you think about each name and their colleagues and their families and their audiences, this really begins to bring home to you the magnitude of it. Reading this year 82, and what's very important to say here is that 24 in this year in Latin America, in this part of the world.
This is the extent of the problem. It's the extent of the problem that should impact anybody interested in information and human rights, the freedom of expression and people's ability to exercise that right online or offline.
Now, according to this report that UNESCO produced, most of these conflicts actually are not in the war zones. Most of these deaths ‑‑ well, whether I say most, 59% are. That's not all of them. Those draw a huge amount of attention due to beheadings by ISIS and so on, but 41% are in countries not characterized as war zones.
What's also interesting is foreign correspondents aren't killed but local reporters. In Mexico and elsewhere it's local reporters being attacked. Now, in this UNESCO report it's not only about the numbers and the kinds of journalists killed, it's also about whether there's follow‑up or a judicial process of investigation in bringing the killers to justice.
On the 2nd of November this year, 89 countries around the world had events to mark the international day to end impunity for crimes against journalists because 80% of attacks on journalists are fatal attack and lead to conviction of killers. In other words, if you're going to kill a journalist, you can know nine times out of ten nothing will happen.
It's not necessarily worse than what happens with the rest of society that faces arbitrary murders or murders for political reasons, but it's important because it's symbolic doing this public service. If you want to protect journalists, you have to get rid of law and apply to cases where journalists are killed.
If you want to look on the UNESCO website, you will see that this report by UNESCO is a database, and you can put in the name of your country there, and you'll see how many journalists have been killed in the mast ten years and how many cases have been resolved and when your government responded to your request from UNESCO for information about that.
So this is the extent of the problem that I've covered. Now I want to tell you about some action that's been taken to deal with the problem. There is progress to report. So you have a United Nations plan of action on the safety of journalists, which started in 2012, supported across the U.N., supported by many other bodies and supported by Latin America and some governments have decided they'll support it. Human rights groups have decided to support it.
Some media organizations and regional associations as well. So we'll hear more about that. This plan is not only the U.N., but it shows how important people regard the safety of journalists because it's the United Nations in partnership with all these other groups.
The second thing is that as a result of the momentum under this U.N. plan, you've heard in the U.N. bodies that are in Paris, Geneva and New York nine resolutions on the safety of journalists, which is probably unheard of that so much attention has been put on one topic. This just goes to show that public opinion worldwide is taking this thing seriously.
The number of states that are reporting to UNESCO on if there was a judicial process or not, and what the result was, has risen over three years, this figure here which is 65%. They better play the game and show that they are taking this as a real problem that needs to be addressed.
In many countries many new systems are developed. Just last week a memorandum was signed in Paraguay between the three powers to set up mechanisms in Paraguay, for example. Because you couldn't deal with this problem just only with awareness and campaigning, but you need practical systems as well.
It's also increasing alignment of governments, media, NGOs and U.N. actors and we want to see more Internet actors. That's why UNESCO is here to try and save anybody from the Internet get involved in in plan because it's of relevance to the Internet as well. Next year we will have as UNESCO an ongoing process in consultant with many partners to culminate on the 29th of June a global conference for strengthening the U.N. plan of action.
So we have good momentum, and I'll tell you, the few cases where this momentum is being reflected, the one is the WSIS+10 document. They recognized these points about the safety of journalists. So the government represents us in the U.N. and represents the safety of journalists and not something far away from the future of the Internet.
It's part of what they need to take hold of. Then you have as our chair mentioned a sustainable development agenda, and he mentioned Goal 16. Goal 16.10, the target, 16.10 is public access to information and fundamental freedoms. There is an indicator there, which is still provisional but really it is being used, an indicator of how to measure public access to information and fundamental freedoms.
One is safety of journalists. So this is very good because it shows that the safety of journalists is relevant to the Internet and development.
Let's move now to the digital dimensions of this problem and then some of the responses. So you see here there's a picture of a note, and you see a name underneath it. Well, I think many of you know what this is. This is a note left by a drug Mafia when they chopped off the head of a Mexican journalist. Because they didn't like what she was posting on social media about the drugs trade, and even though she used a different name, they tracked her down and cut off her head and they left this poster next to her body as a warning. This is the kind of brutality we face.
If you look at what the risks were, there was more exposure. That's work she could have done for a small magazine somewhere, maybe it wouldn't have been noticed that she would have taken it on social media.
Second of all, the digital footprints. I don't think how this drugs gang tracked her down, but they did. On the Internet as you know, you leave prints all over the place.
Secondly -- it's the thirdly, and it's devices. People increasingly around the world that do journalism find their devices are seized by various actors and criminals and unauthorized security and search the devices and compromise the confidential of their sources.
When you have cyber threats, we don't have so elaborate on that and we know about the abuse and intimidation and death threats that come over e‑mail, and you have people pretending to be journalists as well with fake news.
Lastly, communications with anybody, communication with your family and you can expose you. Communications with you and your sources particularly can expose them and expose you as a journalism. So there's a whole dimension introduced by digital technology that can make journalists more vulnerable. So here are some of the responses. Here's international standards.
We have to push for international standards to be applied online for the protection of journalists and journalisms online as much as offline. Not only from governments but from companies. I'll speak more about this in a minute. The second thing is that individuals and the media houses, employers need to take more responsibility. You cannot just think this is a problem that can be solved by the U.N. or by governments.
And lastly, it is possible when people receive threats online to track down those people who are committing those threats and bring them to court because it's unacceptable to intimidate them or abuse them for freedom of the expression. These are ways in which responses can be shaped.
A little bit more detail on that is that international standards, and I say in the recent case of working with judges and there will be a whole session on that later in the week and I'll ask that later and our colleague came here to tell us about that. This is really important to bring judges in and say to judges, this journalist so important.
You have to prioritize it and take firm action against those who are brought to court and you need to work with the law enforcement to tell them they've got to bring the killers to book them. There's also this question now of generating more knowledge from empowerment about digital safety. So as was mentioned by our chair today but also launching here a Spanish translation of this book, which is about digital safety and there's a nice summary of that.
We also have another summary of protection for sources in the digital age and the two other publications you see here. One is the publication by report frontier in partnership with UNESCO, which includes all kinds of safety and digital safety. The last one ‑‑ well, I'll say that. The protection of sources. So two ‑‑ to we'll begin to wrap up. Finally, I'll tell you about the journalism safety indicators, because unless we measure this problem, it's hard to know what's going to happen and what to do about it.
So there have been these studies, private studies in Latin America and Honduras and Latin America and this is so important. When the studies take place, they look for the digital aspect. Some say that's not well enough. Anybody interested to use these journalism safety indicators, you can make a difference and help in this case.
These are questions being asked with measuring how is the digital landscape of the safety for journalists. Journalists are the aware of digital ages and not aware of using protection, they have opportunities for training and they also benefit on the employer supporting this thing.
When you come to the companies, companies also have a relative plan we need to measure. Are they playing this role? Are the companies offering security, data security journalists? Are they being transparent when they hand over data? Do they report on this? And lastly, do they offer some kind of redress and some kind of tracking system so journalists can actually be confident that there's not collaboration?
So to sum up and this is my last slide here, the two sides of the coin, digit one and one when you deal with safety. One can impact people, and we know that. Digital side impacts on the Internet governance dimension, and decisions about the Internet are very relevant about what happens in this whole question. The right to freedom of expression and to do journalism online. Lastly, the journalism safety indicators. It's a great framework to map the situation and say, was there improvement? Please keep in touch with UNESCO on this issue if you're interested. There's a regular newsletter, and you can always, as I said, come back and tell us if you're interested in doing the safety indicators in your country and we can see if we can support that. Thank you very much.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Guy. Now we have Edison Lanza on freedom of expression by the Inter‑American Human Rights Association.
>> EDISON LANZA: Good afternoon, everyone. I want to thank UNESCO for the invitation to participate in in panel. I think it is critical. I salute UNESCO for this initiative and we're talking about the protection of journalists in risky situations like the ones we have used that have been described. I am saying these because we can't speak for hours about freedom of expression online if we do not remove the most serious type of censorship, that is to say the threats, harassment and killing of journalists. Those who were killed because of what they do or those who defend human rights.
They have been prosecuted ‑‑ well, they have been killed because they have expressed their voices. Thus, in this type of multi‑stakeholder arenas, we have to look at the expansion of freedom of expression online. We have to talk about this topic as well.
This is something that I have mentioned in all the spaces. How to improve freedom of expression and how can ‑‑ how we can improve the safety of journalists. I will try to focus on those aspects related to Internet safety. In the previous presentation this was mentioned. The role of Internet as a revolutionary tool that allows us to express or allows us to exercise our freedom of expression for the first time in humankind. This is not part of an elite.
I am talking about the freedom of expression. Now, everyone can exercise these rights, the right of freedom of expression. In the past, this was the privilege of high level politicians or even journalists. In order to exercise the right of freedom of expression, you had to be part of the media or the government, but now thanks to technologies this right has extended, and now we are interacting on a different platform sharing information, editing information, posting information, criticizing information. We're always giving our opinion. This is something very true in the case of Latin America.
Now we have change in the definition of the word journalist. In the past, we would say that we couldn't have a professional association defining who was to exercise freedom of expression by means of journalism, but now the concept is more ‑‑ is broader. We're talking about citizens who realize about injustices in the region, and because of that they feel like opening a blog or posting a tweet to tell others that this is an injustice or to share information, information that is not shared by traditional media. Because of organized crime, because of the state, et cetera.
We have got a number of censorship mechanisms involved in the process. That's why it's important to talk about these, because the safety of journalists has stopped being a topic that only relates to professional journalists. We're talking about citizens, laymen, and women that exercise the freedom on the Internet. This has happened in the case of Mexico.
We have this example like the case of (inaudible), the media were subjected to organized crime. There were some killings that were not solved. The press was self‑censored because of the result of these situations. And many bloggers, citizens took advantage of the character ‑‑ anonymous character of the Internet. They informed their communities.
Unfortunately, the source was identified, and the person was killed. This was set as an example to others. It was posted on Twitter. The criminals didn't want anyone else to continue posting on social media, so I think this issue is of special significance. The rapporteur has always mentioned that we can have digital threats against journalists.
Physical attacks are preceded by threats on what's up, on Twitter, on Facebook. So for law enforcement agencies, this is a very important piece of information. Threads have to be taken into consideration significantly. Sometimes we think that digital threats are not that serious.
We think that they do not involve physical contact. It might be true, but the truth is that there are many cases that ended up in killings, and there were threads, digital threads that were not investigated in due time. This type of impunity brings about the free killing of journalists because there's no consequence. New technologies are a source of information for law enforcement agencies. They can actually investigate digital contents because these are the digital contents that will help them prevent physical violence.
Number two. This is something mentioned by Civil Society organizations. The digital environment provides the opportunity to convey information at the low cost. It has also created a platform for threatening people. Hacking, surveillance of our private lives as journalists. Not only by criminals but also by the state.
We have to look at the safety of journalists as a holistic issue. It is not a single solution. It is a single solution point. It is about the situation of the whole up country when it comes to the freedom of expression.
We need to have clear laws defining how Internet is to be monitored. There needs to be transparency between the instruments and the information. We need to have a clear legislation for surveillance of Internet, and we have to define what agency will be in charge of that surveillance, and we need to have independent controls.
This has to be part of the system, a system that has to be additional to the ones that we already have in place in order to protect journalists and to find impunity of these crimes.
Allow me to finish with a positive note.
What are we doing in the Inter‑American Human Rights Association when it comes to the promotion of freedom of expression? We are promoting a specific mechanism in order to protect journalists in those places where we have a structure of violence, a mechanism allowing us to look into the risks in order to protect journalists so they can continue doing what they do.
If you put a police officer by a journalist, then you are going to be limiting the investigation capabilities of the journalist. So the special mechanisms are important in order to protect journalists. And journalism along with UNESCO, we are working on training just as operators specialize in the protection of journalists if judges do not understand what the killing of a journalist entails apart from being murder, many other rights are put in jeopardy.
For instance, the right to be informed, the right that society has to be informed. Some people don't think of these as journalists or journalism‑related crime. We really have to look into these type of cases in order to define who the ‑‑ who is responsible for these. We are preparing a list of themes. We want to explain how the ‑‑ how violence operates as a whole and how in many countries of the regions we have got blackout areas because of violence related reasons. What are the mechanisms that governments need in order to face this type of a situation? We are setting the priorities.
The cases of violence against journalists, Latin America is still one of the most violent places on Earth whether it comes to journalism. We cannot allow ourselves to have 100 or 200 journalists without nothing happening, because that really promotes censorship.
So this year we're going to have two cases of killings in Colombia and Brazil, journalists, that is, and the investigation was not complete, and it didn't protect the witnesses or those who had information about the responsible ‑‑ the responsibilities of these crimes.
With this, I finish. Thank you very much.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you. Now we have David Kaye here, special rapporteur for freedom of expression.
>> DAVID KAYE: I'm sorry I have to talk and run. I have to catch a flight. But I wanted to start by saying that I agreed with everything that Guy and Edison said. They really, I think, set up the framework for this discussion very nicely. One thing that Guy said that I would have to object to, though, is he said that people don't live on the Internet, and we're at IGF. So I would have to say there probably some people here who actually do live the on Internet. I think I'm getting feedback.
So I wanted to start by talking a little bit and really try to limit my remarks, because I think Guy and Edison covered a lot of the ground here by talking about law and backing up a little bit. From my perspective at least, as U.N. rapporteur, in first talking about the framework of law that applies whether we talk about the safety of journalists, and then identify maybe two or three different areas where they're not particularly about attacks ‑‑ attacks ‑‑ physical attacks on journalists, but they're about the environment that governments and societies often create that allows for those attacks to take place and for impunity to reign, really.
So the first point is about framework. I think when most of us are thinking about the law that applies, we're talking about either article 19 of the universal declaration of human rights or the international covenant on civil rights or the American convention or any number of other instruments in international law that all basically provide the same rules, and those rules ‑‑ I think it's important to restate them, and that's first that everyone has the right to hold an opinion without interference.
That's not subject to any kind of restriction. Everyone has the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds regardless of frontiers and through any media. This language is, you know, immediate post‑war, post‑World War II and it's pressured in the way in its description of the Internet in many respects. I think most of my work and most of ‑‑ I think Edison's work as well revolves around the third paragraph of restrictions and different instruments.
This is where governments are retaining the right or the authority to restrict freedom of expression, not opinion but expression but only where three criteria are met. One, the criteria of legality, that is, the restriction is provided by law. Second, that the restriction is necessary and proportionate, and three, necessary to achieve a legitimate objective.
I want to focus in on this legitimate objective part for a moment. So much of the law that has been developed by states has been adopted by states over the last several years particularly in digital space. I think it's created environments that create some uncertainty and some basic insecurity for journalists, and it's important for us, certainly those of us thinking about the normative framework for freedom of expression to be focusing to a certain extent on these particular laws at the domestic level.
I would mention a couple of them. One is counterterrorism laws or laws that are anti‑terrorist act‑like laws. And what we've seen increasingly is an expansion, an uptick in the number of laws that restrict individuals or punish, really criminalize reporting where that reporting is seen to be propagating terrorism, to be propaganda for terrorism.
I think in many places around the world we're seeing journalists, reporters of all sorts equated with terrorists, and that's not just I think a line that some political leaders raise, but it's actually happening. I just spent in November a week in Turkey, and in Turkey as many may know, there's over 150 journalists in prison right now.
Many of them are in prison on grounds of propagation of terrorism or glorifying terrorism. These kinds of rules, I think, are really directly contrary to freedom of expression, but they also create an environment, a local environment that translates into the social environment in which journalists are the enemy. Journalists are seen as a part of the problem rather than reporters who are sharing information about what's going on around the world.
That's one thing I would identify, whether they're counterterrorism lays or prevent of electronic crimes or cybercrime laws, they're doing the same thing heading in this direction. It's a global problem. I think it's a real problem for journalist security.
The other set of norms, of laws at the national level that I think are problematic from the perspective of prop portion although is laws undermining the right of anyone but this applies specifically to journalists and hits journalists hardest is restrictions on digital security. Guy went over different kinds of digital security journalists need in order to protect themselves and their sources and stories. We're seeing increasingly laws where proposals for laws that essentially criminalize in some cases encryption or anonymity or simply prohibit those and provide the government with back doors or other ways into our data, into our communication.
Sometimes it's into or content, interfering with our content and sometimes it's interference with our meta data, and so this is a significant problem. It's connected to another problem, which is laws around surveillance, which surveillance laws are increasingly, again, providing mechanisms to government in order to track journalists and to track anyone really but especially to track journalists, and that leads to increased insecurity for journalists in particular.
I wanted to say a couple of words about what political leaders are saying about these kinds of issues, and something about impunity and I'll wrap up. We have a big panel, and a good panel here. The first is on political leaders. I think we've increasingly seen over the last couple of years but especially over the last year, year and a half leaders of countries speaking about journalists as threats, as scum, as really subhuman. I mean, this has been in several different environments that we can all identify and probably the examples are in your head as I mention them.
I think those are real problems of journalist security. We might look to leaders who say those kinds of things and think that it's a joke. They're overstating the problem. But the truth is they're creating an environment and we've seen this at political rallies and all sorts of ways to create real threats because of an environment created by politicians, frankly. The lank thing I wanted to say is about the issue of impunity and Edison addressed this, I think, nicely.
That there's a real need for special mechanisms to deal with protection of journalists. I think some of those special mechanisms may be special prosecutors that conduct special investigations when we're dealing with attacks on journalists, particularly murders of journalists? I think this is a problem less of law and more a problem of political will.
I think it's essential for governments to implement the law that they have, and if they have special problems, specific problems about the security of journalists, as we have as you mentioned Edison or Mexico or any other places around the world, governments should be implementing their law which clearly deals with protection of anyone who is subject to threats, but particularly in the context of journalists to make the political step to create these mechanisms to investigate attacks on journalists, to create the security for the prosecutors and for the witnesses so that impunity doesn't prevail and really focus on allowing the judicial systems and the prosecutors to work in a space and encourage that space for prosecution and the elimination of impunity?
I think that's an important step that for me is really not just about law. We need to be focusing on legal steps that protect journalists in all sorts of environments and implement the laws that exist related to simple crimes, ordinary crimes of murder and physical attack and implementing them through creative ways and there are good practices out there to be adopted to pursue those kinds of approaches.
So thank you very much. Thanks for allowing me to jump the queue here.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you. I will now yield the floor over to this side, because we have only had participants from my right‑hand side. Now I will move over to my left‑hand side. Altering a little bit the order and now that we have with us Marta Duran, who is a journalist and sociologist and a university professor.
She taught at the University and political journalism and is a correspondent for radio Netherlands. She has a Ph.D. in sociology from the university and she has published about contemporary Mexico.
>> MARTA DURAN: Thank you so much for the invitation. I am honored by it.
I would like to make a clarification. I was presented as an expert, but I am actually a beneficiary of the mechanism for the protection of journalists. And I'm very pleased that in Mexico we have a mechanism for the protection of journalists implemented. There is a federal mechanism. There is one for Mexico City specifically, and two states of the Mexican republic already have them.
There's a special attorney's office for crimes against journalists and both the prosecutor as well this mechanism take place under illegal framework and also have an assigned budget of millions of pesos and there is a private entity that is exclusively devoted to installing infrastructure for cameras, electrified wires and alarms and lights with motion sensors and the famous panic button.
But in spite of these wonderful devices, attacks on journalists here in Mexico have not stopped. On the contrary they contrary they continue and are on the rise. The question is why in spite of the mechanism set in place, in spite of the legislation and the fact that the federal justice system can now follow several offenses against journalists, why is it that Mexico continues to be ranked among the leading countries with the highest index of assassinated and killed journalists?
Why haven't we been successful in the combat against severe attacks against journalists. Over 90% of the legal cases have not been solved as of the report of autumn 2016 out of every ten attacks on journalists. Seven come from agents of the state. This is a tremendous contradiction with the mechanisms with the special prosecutor's office and with the official discourse. Attacks do not only come from agents of the state or public officials, but also from private entities that take on themselves the role of private censors.
The well‑known case of Carmen is a perfect example of the situation. The team of Carmen (inaudible) has deployed specific evidence of actions on the part of the government, but she was unjustifiably fired by the MVS company that hired her, but now she faces a demand for moral damage. On top of that, the judge in charge of this case received the instruction from higher up to destroy Carmen, that she had to be destroyed and ruined. This is not the first time it's crooked with journalists. He was in prison for over three years accused of being a drug dealer. He was never judged and he was tortured for three years every night. So in all cases of journalists that were assassinated, victims have been criminalized.
The legislative system link communicators with organized crime disseminating the message among several society that journalists were not on the right side of the law or that quite frankly they were asking for it. In the case of women, the clear explanation, it was a passion crime that there was a lover that blinded with range simply did away with them. So the root cause for these crimes is never identified.
You know, the writing of the journalists are never steadied as clues that may lead to not only the material killer but to the intellectual killer of journalists. At the best case when the material killer is trapped, the issue is simply left there. Of course, the killer is looked among the circle of friends or colleagues of the journalists. Many of our killed colleagues were accused of deviating funds and being accomplices of corrupt public officials of having ties with organized crime. But many of them on top of having been killed, they were mutilated because they are cut into pieces literally.
Oftentimes their head is found one place and the extremities in other places, and this is to send a macabre message that not only they got rid of the journalist, but also they want to send a threat to all journalists.
A very recent and painful case has been the killing of Ramone Espinosa. He arrived into Mexico City trying to run away from specific threats on the part of the police court from Veracruz. He thought the capital of the country would be an oasis of protection, and he was as a matter of fact killed in Mexico City along with a generalist that ran away from Veracruz because she was threatened.
It was pointed out it was a regular crime, but I ask you in what regular crime and there is no theft, victims are tortured and they are given the great issue with the silencer. What would be the conclusion of that? The crime remains unresolved, and according to different journalists and different sources, there is no evidence that the so far culprits are actually to blame for the crime.
Now, at the beginning the chaos was understandable because no one really knew how to implement the legal framework, but now there are already journalists that receive phone calls from the bank who the panic button to collect amounts supposedly due, but in the case of (inaudible) from Yucatan, he was called through the panic button and it was actually a death threat.
So in conclusion, the mechanism and the prosecutor's office specific for crimes against journalists exist, but their measures have to be implemented. Impunity can't be as it is, because it is an invitation to kill more journalists and we know that it is the most cost‑effective instrument to impose censorship. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you. Next we will hear Julio Cesar, who is the joint general director for the reception of cases and expedite solution for the production of defenders of human rights and journalists.
>> JULIO CESAR: Thank you, and I thank you all for your presence. I thank UNESCO for the invitation. This opportunity to share this space with people truly concerned about this tropic. True con sours of this topic. I would like to start by mentions whenever we talk about protection mechanisms, we always start by defining what this mechanism is about.
So today this will be the ‑‑ an exception, because I'm going to start by referring to the concept of journalism that was already discussed by Guy, which is the concept developed by the United Nations and it's the one stated in the mechanism of protection to human rights defenders and journalists.
I coincide with them that this is a concept that is very broad where we're not talking about an individual working in the media or an individual withholding a title of journalism but any individual who is exercising the right of freedom of expression that is analyzing, critiquing, giving voice to those that don't have a voice, and bringing information closer to all of us. So that is the concept that we are using for the federal mechanism for the protection of human rights defenders and journalists. Now, here we'll now move on to my presentation and I mean we are not in charge of our investigating the crime itself.
In order to have an individual incorporated into our mechanism protection, all they have to do is to identify themselves as journalists and make reference to the threats they have received. So the mere fact of referring to those threats, aggressions, harassments and any other form of aggression would be enough to incorporate that individual into our mechanism of protection. And I congratulate myself for the existence of this mechanism, this is an emerging tool.
This is a tool that is a result of the issues that we have had to defend, but this is a reaction on the part of the state and is a proposal of a solution for the aggressions against journalists. Of course, we need to interpret these measures, and, of course, we need to see the results within the short term or medium terms. The idea is for these measures to eventually disappear, because that would mean that journalists are performing the task risk‑free.
In the mechanism for protections, we are protecting against digital and non‑digital threats in several ways. Once given the regulations that we have, the regulations were issued in 2012, and in 2013 we began to identify the first cases as Marta pointed out. Initially there was a loss.
We had a backlog of over 80 cases, but fortunately now we now addressing the mechanism of protection not as a picture of something that happened in 2013 but we're looking at the current status as of this year. We've had technical advice from the part of Freedom House with Colombian experts that have over 17 years of experience in this field. And these Colombian consultants have again shared with us the necessary processes in order to make a correct evaluation of risks.
They have shared with us their dos and don'ts, and so that we have the experience ‑‑ we have the opportunity to learn from the experience of our Colombian counterparts. We have been thoroughly trained by them. And the digital issue is something that actually has exceeded our capabilities and is running faster than regulations or even faster than governmental actions.
So we need to expedite or actions. We need to move closer to the United Nations and move closer to journalists in order to improve our work. Training is of vital importance, and as Guy and Edison pointed out, this is not only an issue that touches us but society as a whole. We have mandated to protect those who exercise freedom of expression, and this is why training is another of the actions that we are undertaking.
We have organized courses on strategies for digital safety and self‑protection. These are minor efforts but efforts nonetheless to protect beneficiaries. Someone talked about the panic button. We now call it the help button, but what we provide is assistance to those who require it. We have ‑‑ someone mentioned the phone calls.
Yes, we are improving the system so that the button may discriminate, so the journalists may only dial one of the four top ten numbers, and that button will discriminate all others. All other phone numbers that are the result of extortion or whatever. Because that phone number had already been used by another user or another telephone company.
So we are already undertaking a special effort with the executive in order to create a database. And this project aims at storing reports in order to determine a risk map that may enable us to first reflect the areas that are the dangerous areas for those who are exercising their freedom of expression that may also help us develop a risk evaluation or risk assessments and also develop protection plans.
That would be tailored to specific regions, and we are acting upon four variables, and the capabilities of the aggressor and here we're not only talking about organized crime or common felons, but we are also talking about public agents or officials. We need to identify their economic power or their political power. To undertake those aggressions or their will or their intentions. And on top of this, we're also looking at the vulnerabilities of journalists.
We all know perfectly well that the exercise of journalism involves risks because they affect all sorts of interests, social, economic, political, et cetera. Of course, the imminence of the aggression, and so this is the situation that we are analyzing and to develop an adequate protection plan or I'm sorry an adequate protection plan.
As Guy pointed out, people may use the Internet, but ten hours a day, but they do not live constantly using Internet. So the fact that we first have a threat, a digital threat turns the red lights on, because we know that those threats can eventually be materialized.
So the first action in this mechanism of which I'm responsible, we have a daily monitoring of sources in order to identify threats or harassments to journalists or to defenders of human rights, and this action has made it possible for us to identify the types of attacks it can be done to go intense the prestige of a journalist or even the creation of that to constantly be eliminating Twitter or Facebook accounts of journalists. And also, we ‑‑ on top of the detecting these type of threats, we invite journalists or the media they work for, if they work in specific media because we have already mentioned this can be freelance journalists, so we identify the journalists and we are in communications with the special prosecution for the crimes against freedom of expression and we let them ‑‑ we give them warning.
We issue warnings and in the Mexican republic we have 32 states and we have agreements with 31 states with Mexico City we do not have a signed agreement, but we have a very good coordination with them. On top of that, we have contacts with the different organizations for the protection of human rights and with NGOs.
I need to underscore that this mechanism has as members five members that have voiced and not one among them is the commissioner of the United Nations a representation of the upper house, the lower house, and the judicial power. So it involves different stakeholders to protect our journalists. What is important to point out is that when we created these governing board, every Kay is analyzed individually, and we proceed individually in order to better protect journalists and of course the involvement of NGOs are vitally important.
We have four advisers, two experts in human rights and two experts in journalism. Each of these discussions under the mechanism from the procedures, manuals and formats with which we work, the protection plans are reviewed by NGOs, so this has helped us strengthen our accountability and transparency. To finish, I would point out that we are developing a matrix with the gender perspective, because we know perfectly well it's not the same to have an individual carving out journalism as a man and woman. Of course, women are braver than men, and women even place their lives before that of their relatives.
So we need to tailor our response to gender. Not only in the digital world but also in the physical world. Among these measures for protections, we have cameras, et cetera, but we also are developing communications to governments so if there is an aggressor that we have to find the ways to inhibit the action of aggressors.
Thank you. That's all for my part.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you. Next we will hear Erika Smith who comes from the women's rights team for the Association for Progressive Communication.
>> ERIKA SMITH: I'm not sure if everybody speaks Spanish. We can go Spanish. In you're tired of Spanish, we can go to English. My Spanish would be very bad, but I say that because I'm from the Association for Progressive Communications, and I have had the honor of working with a lot of people in Latin America doing different types of digital security trainings, so it's kind of funny to have APC here.
We work for Internet for Social Justice. A lot of people are using the Internet for rights talked by Edison Lanza. Our journalists is Guy Berger defined. I work in the women's rights program, so we have been studying the situation of gender‑based violence online for over ten years, and I can't tell you the change in the way everybody has been talking about it in this panel in the last few minutes.
We heard about how this is something to be taken quite seriously. We've heard about how it's not something to be dismissed, and importantly, the intrinsic, intimidate enter connection between what's online and offline, you can't separate the two.
So it's not like let's look here and there. It's completely enter connected so this is what we argue about when we look at gender‑based violence in APC for years. It's been dismissed for a very long time.
So it's exciting, because we've seen that change, and unfortunately, why have you seen that change? Because it's gotten so severe and obviously interconnected and it's so quickly seen how online threats because carried out in reality. It's important to know about this gender perspective, and I am so excited and surprised to hear about the announcement about having the (Speaking in Spanish) that is fantastic news.
Journalists in Mexico have been asking for this, and the women's communication agency just released their 2016 report about women journalists and it's one of their demands. It's excellent to see how that comes out and expresses, because what we have found in APC when we are working with women who are facing online violence, is that when they try to report it, it's dismissed.
I find it so ironic that all women are told this, but to have a woman reporter told toughen up. Just deal. We all face criticism like that. You know, it's nothing serious. I mean, how many journalists do you know ‑‑ women journalists are some of the toughest people I know.
Journalists in general are so committed to communication, and you tell them, you know, just don't take it seriously. That threat of dismemberment, no big deal, because it happened on Twitter.
So it's not serious. Your friends will tell you that. The police will tell you that. The mechanism will tell you that. The threats of rape, rape of your child, the name of your child and the name of your pet. This invasion of a lot of personal data and mixing and it's still dismissed if you're a woman. Why? Why?
Why is it still so effective that the way to best silence and question the credibility of a woman journalist, of a female journalist is by attacking her physical appearance, her sexuality and sexual expression, and it's, in fact, in this great report that UNESCO has developed, I don't know how it was translated into Spanish, but in this report you'll see that it talks about the double‑attack that female journalists face as women and as journalists. And I almost want to laugh, because how many journalists would love to actually have a debate about what they're publishing about?
How many women journalists would love to get into deeper investigative reporting instead of sort of shoveling through thousands of comments about the size of their breasts or why she chose to wear that sweater. This sounds silly, and we're not talking about wow, these comments shouldn't exist. We do wish there was less superficial and sexist and discriminatory remarks online, of course.
When you start to see how that sort of overwhelming superficial type of comments can really start to silence, especially if they're developed by bots or especially if someone is dedicated and does it personally and especially whether someone says, you know, to mess with this citizen journalist who also happens to be covering women's rights or abortion, I'm going to dig up some dirt on her. Oh, this is where she lives, et cetera, and that's taken much force. The problem is that it's dismissed that it's not serious, and because a lot is gendered, it's not serious he's talking about your breasts.
It doesn't matter. Maybe it doesn't, but if you don't have how the tone is beginning to change, when you don't understand a local context of those women are living in to understand if that threat of dismemberment is just a joke or if it's a reality.
So those are the types of things that get ‑‑ can be very subtle or maybe not so subtle. But they are ones that the majority of people ‑‑ this was a great session this morning on online harassment as well.
Why take legal measures? There will not be any response. You will be dismissed. Why report it to a media outlet if you're one of those few people lucky enough to have a media outlet. Whether women journalists face 50%, talk about facing sexual harassment on the job.
So are you going to go and talk about the situation that you are facing in front of your media outlet who is already harassing you? Or there have been journalists forced to wade through all the comments and they have to just quit because they have to deal with this vile trauma. It's, again, perhaps not anything that you would say that this is offensive speech and must be taken down.
Often, again, we're accused that we can take some bad comments, honey. So let's think about that, though. As a media outlet, don't you want debate and quality content? You can have a policy. You can limit the comments. Please do visit the analysis of comments made in the guardian project in the web earlier this year.
It talks about, yeah, in fact, funny, people have been saying it for a long time. Women are attacked differently and much, much more, and it's not just a male/female thing. It's a gender thing, if you're a gay man and a man of color you're more attacked than other men. These are the types of things that we need to have a broader understanding about in terms of this systemic discrimination that does exist.
When you put it into this very dangerous profession that people are practicing and they're practicing with a great deal of dedication, with incredible precariousness, vulnerable working conditions where they're, in fact, freelancers, when you're seeing what we've seen as well, younger women online are, of course, subject to much more attack.
I say, of course, because there's a lot more younger women on line than in general, so it might not be surprising statistically, but isn't it interesting that this report covering 2015 and 2016 saw a much greater increase of violence against women online. The younger women online. These are the types of things that are concerning whether we begin to look very specifically at women journalists and their ability to ensure all of our rights to freedom of expression.
A couple of things. I think that it is actually the online world that is quite disturbing when you begin to look at questions of am minute trying to figure out if you're at risk or nothing to worry about.
Certainly when you have direct threats, that's not an exercise of a permissible discourse, right? That's freedom of expression you face there.
A lot of times you start to question the rights, and I think that what we don't see when we see women who are facing aggression online, there's like they should be able to prosecute people talking this way and they want their concern that defamation has been decriminalized in so many countries. I think everyone here would celebrate that defamation has been decriminalized, because we know that it's been used to criminalize journalists, in fact.
But we see that there's this call back to, again, criminalize defamation, so that's a concern. Women journalists aren't asking for that, but some of them are saying, what about this anonymity? What we found again and again and that's your tool, so one of the biggest things that we have from our trainings is to really understand the risks and the digital sphere. Understand how Internet works, be able to maybe not only understand to do something called doc yourself. Find all the information out there online about you so you know that person talking about you actually had easy access to your information.
Your digital footprint was pretty huge. So it's a lot of exploring those tools together. One of the biggest problems is the women most vulnerable, remember, again what was stated earlier about who is doing attacking here? It's public servant and people in power and people frequently in state power or who are allies with them.
So if we think about who is doing the attacks and we think about a lot of women local journalists, they're freelance and may be citizen journalists and don't have funds and health insurance. If you steal their camera or computer, you have effectively silenced them for a long time to be able to recover. They have even less access to understanding all of the digital security aspects, even though these are women who are out there and trying to explore everything because they're job requires them to now not only write and do analysis and cover events, they have to know how to edit photos and produce quality audio and maybe do some video work as well. Et cetera, et cetera.
So we're talking about some amazing people, and they have our backs. How are we going to have theirs and how do we do it understanding that the situation is different from a gender perspective and we have to make allowances for that. Not allowances. Excuse me.