Washington, D.C. — The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) is supporting a new partnership between the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Association of Prosecutors (IAP) to promote the safety of journalists.
In particular, NAAG, through the NAGTRI Center for International Partnerships and Strategic Collaboration, contributed to reviewing and providing feedback on guidelines for prosecutors on investigating and prosecuting cases of crimes against journalists. The guidelines, which were presented on December 10 during the World Press Freedom Day Conference, focus on ensuring that prosecutors play a role in prevention, protection and prosecution of crimes to protect fundamental freedoms. In the United States, the guidelines will serve to raise awareness and as a resource for attorneys general and prosecutorial staff who may work on highly specialized cases on behalf of the state.
“NAAG was honored to support this important international collaboration,” said NAAG Executive Director Chris Toth, who was recently elected IAP vice president for North America, Central America, and the Caribbean. “Through this partnership, NAAG is able to provide resources and guidance to the attorney general community on working with their international counterparts on these types of critical cases, while also promoting the rule of law globally.”
As those responsible for initiating prosecutions and supervising criminal investigations, public prosecutors have a crucial role to play in protecting journalists who are often threatened or attacked for their work, particularly when they investigate corruption issues and public wrongdoing.
“It has been extremely valuable and productive to work with the International Association of Prosecutors, in collaboration with the National Association of Attorneys General, to develop the Guidelines for Prosecutors on Cases of Crimes Against Journalists,” said Mehdi Benchelah, Senior Project Officer, Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists Section, UNESCO. “This new collaboration, with the community of prosecutors and attorneys strengthened an essential pillar of the United Nations’ global strategy to promote the safety of journalists and end impunity for crimes committed against them.”
“The Guidelines for Prosecutors on Cases of Crimes Against Journalists reflect both the crucial role of prosecutors in fair and open societies and the immense value of collaboration between IAP, UNESCO, NAAG and the Siracusa International Institute for Criminal Justice and Human Rights” stated Han Moraal, Secretary-General of IAP.