‘The perils of human rights journalism’ by Kate Allen
In 2007, BBC journalist Alan Johnston was kidnapped in Gaza by the militant group Army of Islam and held for 114 days.
Kate Allen’s article in The Guardian one year later points out that ‘Johnston was the lucky one’ – he lived, he was released, and he was able to share his story. For the 57 journalists killed worldwide in 2010, and for the two photo journalists killed on the job last week in Libya, there was no such happy ending.
Allen, who is the director of Amnesty International UK, points out that Johnston was released on the same day as Amnesty International’s annual media awards in London honoured him for his radio reporting while in Gaza. It’s a coincidence but reflective of how closely human rights and journalism are entwined, and the certain ‘grim irony’ that this entails.
Journalists are ‘deliberately targeted as well as caught in the crossfire’, and in attempting to defend human rights by making abuses known to the world, journalists become vulnerable to human rights abuses themselves.
Suzannah Marshall Macbeth is a Master of Global Communications student at La Trobe University and a member of the upstart editorial team.
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