BY INSI

SAFETY ADVISORY: Syria

LONDON (April 4/INSI) Syria was the most dangerous country for journalists in the first three months of this year, with 10 members of the news media killed there since the start of 2012.

As next week’s deadline approaches for an internationally brokered ceasefire, the International News Safety Institute urges all journalists to take adequate precautions in what continues to be an extremely dangerous and unpredictable environment for those working in the news media.

The following advice has been collated by INSI for those working in Syria:

  • Share your travel plans with a trustworthy person who would be able to contact the authorities/international pressure groups in the case of an emergency;
  • Consider sharing passwords for your emails in case you are arrested and your accounts are hacked
  • Make sure you are discreet about moving into a building - when you move around during the day don't give away your night-time positions
  • Try to move locations during the night and change locations each day/night
  • Ensure you are not next to an anti Government forces position or any sort of political base
  • Where possible seek out a cellar with reinforced concrete, so you can take cover if they start shelling
  • If no cellar, then try to find a stairwell or an escalator shaft; they are normally made of reinforced concrete
  • Wear your flak jackets and helmets day and night - sleep in them if you feel the need
  • Make sure editors are sending in people with advanced trauma kits, who know how to use them and have the training in advanced life support
  • Think about taking a safety advisor as they can advise on military tactics, weapons systems and ranges of weapons and when to think about moving locations
  • Carry your first aid kit with you at all times, as well as communication equipment (satphone) grab bag, GPS and all emergency kit
  • Think about where, how and when you transmit and receive. Is it absolutely necessary to film or can you send a mobile message back - this is a lot safer (because transmissions can be tracked)
  • Make sure you have an exit plan as well as an emergency escape plan
  • Make sure you are covered by life assurance for this area
  • Make sure the management is clear at what stage they need to pull people out - ask yourself whether the story still worth it
  • Do not transmit from where you are staying
  • Find a location inside as far away as possible from your living location to transmit - do this with the least amount of people, so if there is a probability that fewer people get hurt
  • Transmit in 2 minute bursts and then get off the phone and move location. The Government Forces will find it more difficult to get a location fix
  • Your management should not have a "I have to transmit" policy. If you cannot do the above then you don't file
  • Think about filming at night, they often have less people awake at night and it is more difficult to locate due to the darkness and lack of vision. Still file in 2 minute bursts and move location, but maybe just a few hundreds metres under cover of darkness.
  • Don't hang around in huddles of journalists and consider avoiding news hubs as they attract enemy fire

 

If you are concerned or have further questions, please get in touch with INSI who can put you in touch with people on the ground.