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The International News Safety Institute is looking forward to a year of change in 2013. With a new team in place in the lead up to our 10th anniversary in May, we believe we can and will make a difference to journalists everywhere.
In an Extraordinary General Meeting in London this week representatives of the board, trustees, INSI members and staff will look towards our future and discuss our mission to improve the culture of safety for journalists in the field and the newsroom.
2012 was one of the deadliest years on record, with Syria and Pakistan being among the most dangerous places for journalists to operate. January looks like this trend is continuing as INSI recorded 11 journalists killed while carrying out their work, and three cases under investigation – that makes more than one casualty every three days.
We at INSI are working to create a safer working environment for journalists operating in hostile environments – whether they be covering conflict, natural disasters or civil unrest.
In 2012, we provided free safety training to journalists working in Tunisia, Egypt, Brazil, Nigeria and Jordan, all of whom have reported that their ways of working have improved and their ability to react if it goes wrong has increased as a result. We are planning to continue to support and train journalists in Nigeria and finish our mentoring programme for our trained trainers in Brazil, just to start off the year on a positive note.
We at INSI continually remind journalists that safety and security training saves lives by making them more aware of the dangers they face when doing their jobs, and how to avoid them or react if confronted by them. By being aware of the dangers journalists face on a daily basis, they can work out how to counter these danger themselves. Our support to our local projects where we are trying to train trainers, so that national staff can deliver this vital life saving training in the future is paramount to reducing casualties.
INSI has been issuing up-to-date safety advisories for some of the world's hotspots. In January we issued safety advisories for Jordan, Mali and Libya and we are about to issue security advice for the upcoming Kenyan elections in March.
We gather our information from our credible sources and contacts on the ground and we always ensure that is checked, double checked and timely. To keep up-to-date with our news advisories visit the INSI website and sign up to our mailing list.
We also continue to coordinate a secure email discussion with member news organisations to help share confidential and real time sensitive information.
Contact me personally for more information on this.
As we look to the future, as well as building on our strong relationships with the news industry, INSI is focusing on developing partnerships with local news organisations and NGOs to increase the amount of training we can give to staff working in difficult and dangerous situations.
We are also grateful for the support our colleagues across the industry are showing us with a project we are working on for UNESCO as part of the UN's Interagency Plan on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. This will be a publication highlighting good practice for journalists around the world by news organisations, governments, militaries and civil society organisations.
One of our priority areas in which we continue to work is with female journalists, who can face different safety and security issues to their male colleagues. INSI's female trainers are on hand to discuss these issues with them in environments where culturally it may be difficult. We are planning a number of female specific safety training programmes this year and are working on a number of other projects specifically related to the safety of our female colleagues.
We also continue to work with female journalists in order to publicise the need to have a frank discussion about their safety. BBC journalist Shumaila Jaffery, who contributed to our ground-breaking book "No Woman's Land - On the Frontlines with Female Reporters", this month wrote a piece for the INSI Blog documenting her experience of being a woman journalist in Pakistan. INSI’s will be running a female specific safety training programme in Pakistan in March and hopefully this will address some of these issues.
For more information and to become an INSI member, please contact me. I look forward to working with you and for you in 2013 and look forward to hearing your views about INSI and how we can assist you and your organisation.