International School for Journalists’ Safety created in Ukraine


The strategy plan for the Centre in memory of Georgy Gongadze and Anna Politkovskaya was discussed on 14 and 15 September by representatives of 10 countries who gathered at Yaremche in the Ivano-Frankivsk region.  The creators of the project - Myroslava Gongadze from Ukraine, Oleg Panfilov from Russia and Yevhen Hlibovytsky from Ukraine – discussed the project with other conference members from Azerbaijan. Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Ukraine.

The project was endorsed by Miklosh Harasti, OSCE Chair for Media Freedom who opened the conference.

During the conference issues of journalist safety were discussed and examples presented of assaults, disappearances, murders and intimidation in the participants’ countries, as well as persecution or legally unfounded prosecutions of journalists, and interception of their emails.

Oleg Panfilov, Director of the Centre for Extreme Journalism (Russia) believes that it is the failings in the professional training of journalists which lead to a lack of understanding of safe ways of working, of how to apply laws with these causing the most dramatic situations in journalists’ life and work.

Myroslava Gongadze, Georgy Gongadze’s widow, mentioned in her address that the School of Safety was needed for young journalists and students in their last years to give them knowledge of the basic principles of their profession which will make it possible to defend their rights and those of their colleagues and to learn measures to ensure their safety.

It is expected that the School for Journalists’ Safety will have its first students from former Soviet republics in the spring of 2008 in the Ivano-Frankivsk region. Ukraine has been chosen because since the events of late 2004 the country offers the best conditions for journalists and the mass media, and because Ukrainian journalists have a lot of experience in fighting for their rights and demonstrating solidarity during countless protests against the persecution of journalists.  Each of the groups will study for 12-15 days over 2-3 semesters spanning one and a half or two years.  The following areas will be covered: safety in zones of military action; safety during public protest action; legal safety (detention, arrest and court proceedings), computer security, linguistic security and others.

There will also be a website for distance learning.

The partners for the School include the Office of the OSCE Chair for Media Freedom, and a number of organizations from the participating countries. It is hoped that the number of organizations taking part will grow.

The conference was made possible by the support of the International Renaissance Foundation.


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