Looking to journalists’ safety


Unesco’s Jaco du Toit moderating a discussion on Journalists’ Safety Indicators.

Over the past year, the African Media Initiative has been examining the media environment in Kenya to assess the level of journalists’ safety against a set of specific indicators. The study, commissioned by Unesco, involved data collection from key media stakeholders such as media, state and political actors, civil society organizations and academia, the UN and other international organizations.


The indicators – Journalists’ Safety Indicators – are an initiative of Unesco and are designed as a tool to measure progress in efforts to implement the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.


As Unesco says in its guidelines, Applying UNESCO’s Journalists’ Safety Indicators (JSIs) A Practical Guidebook to Assist Researchers (published on 11 February, 2015), “The purpose of the JSI indicators is to pinpoint significant matters that show, or impact upon, the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity. ” The indicators “especially serve as a basis against which changes can be systematically registered over time’’, the guidelines add.


The Guidebook goes on to explain that the JSIs cover “a variety of actions, including: monitoring safety issues (information collection), promoting norms on safety (which includes the publishing of information, amongst other steps), co-ordination with other actors, training and capacity-building programmes, as well as other activities”.


On February 23, Unesco convened a stakeholders’ validation workshop at the United Nations office at Gigiri in Nairobi. It brought together a cross-section of representative groups – Kenya Union of Journalists, Kenya Correspondents Association, Association of Freelance Journalists, National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders (K), Kenya Human Rights Commission, African Media Initiative, Twaweza Communications, Association of Bloggers, Article 19, Association of Parliamentary Journalists and the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner. State actors had also been invited but did not attend.


The lead researcher, Dr George Nyabuga, of the School of Journalism, University of Nairobi, presented the research findings with Unesco’s Jaco du Toit moderating the discussions. Feedback from the stakeholders will help refine the report in preparation for its launch on May 3, 2016, as part of activities to mark the World Press Freedom Day.