BY INSI

INSI appeals to Syrian combatants to respect safety of journalists

London, 27 June - The International News Safety Institute appealed to all sides in the Syrian conflict to respect the safety of journalists - and reminded that deliberate targeting of the news media is a war crime.

London, 27 June - The International News Safety Institute appealed to all sides in the Syrian conflict to respect the safety of journalists - and reminded that deliberate targeting of the news media is a war crime.

Gunmen raided the headquarters of the pro-government Syrian TV station Al-Ikhbariya early Wednesday, killing seven employees, kidnapping others and demolishing buildings, according to reports.

The Syrian government accused rebel forces of a "massacre against the freedom of the press".

According to INSI data, Syria is the bloodiest country in the world this year for journalists with 17 deaths out of a global total of 73. Several citizen journalists also have been killed.

Syrian forces stand accused of being responsible for the great majority of the killings, but pro-government journalists also have been attacked on several occasions during the 15-month uprising.

"Journalists are not combatants - they are innocent bystanders simply doing their jobs, either as independent reporters or as employees of news organisations - and their safety must be respected," said INSI Director Rodney Pinder.

"Every attack on the news media is an assault on the freedom and human rights of all Syrians - the cause both sides claim to be fighting for."

Pinder drew attention to the Geneva Conventions which clearly state that to intentionally attack civilians not taking direct part in hostilities is a war crime. Journalists are regarded as civilians, protected under international law.

"Journalists and other news media staff are not fair game for murder in any cause or conflict and those responsible should eventually be held to account by the international community," he said.

 

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