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Journalists do more than simply bring us the story. They provide society with a key public good by disseminating new information. In this key role, journalists continue to face dangers both in conflict and in peacetime. They suffer from increasing censorship and restrictions on freedom of expression, bringing many into conflict with the governments they work under or the people they report on. Targeted violence against journalists is on the rise and in January 2012 alone, 10 journalists were killed worldwide. But why are journalists finding it more rather than less difficult to perform their job in the modern age of information dissemination? In what ways are they repressed or targeted in their work? What is the role of the State regarding impunity for the perpetrators of violence against journalists? And how can we stop this?

In 2011-12, the Centre of Governance and Human Rights conducted research for the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Mr. Christof Heyns. Our research pack and analysis report, both produced in March 2012, focus on issues of impunity towards journalist killings, and measures to protect journalists’ right to life. The CGHR report was presented and discussed at a two-day experts meeting in Cambridge, and the outcomes incorporated in the report by Mr. Heyns to the Human Rights Council in June 2012 to improve the safety of journalists.

In May 2015, the UN Security Council dedicated an all-day debate to the question of the protection of journalists, and adopted Resolution 2222 condemning impunity for attacks on journalists and calling on states and all parties to conflicts to ensure safe environments for media professionals to do their important work.

UN Special Rapporteur's report on journalists' right to life

heyns report

CGHR Safety of Journalists 'Research Pack'

research pack

This resource was prepared by CGHR for the Meeting of Experts on the Draft Report of the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions on the Safety of Journalists, held on 1-2 March 2012 at CGHR, Cambridge.

Download PDF here.

The research was conducted by:

Project Leader: Sharath Srinivasan, Director CGHR

Research Coordinators: Mona Elbahtimy and Sarah Elliott

Editors: Evie Browne and Thomas Probert


  • Emily Carlton (local journalists)
  • Mona Elbahtimy (human rights law and armed conflict)
  • Sarah Elliott (humanitarian law)
  • Aikaterini Glyniadaki (armed conflict)
  • Lucy McMahon (citizen journalists)
  • Rebecca Meredith (organized crime)
  • Thomas Probert (non-legal protection)
  • Ping Shum (reporting on politics)


ExPRESSion RePRESSion, International efforts to protect journalists at risk

Following the closed experts meeting, CGHR organised an international experts roundtable on Friday 2nd March 2012. Click here for more information.


ExPRESSion RePRESSion, International efforts to protect journalists at risk

CGHR organised an international experts roundtable on Friday 2nd March 2012 to discuss the right to life of journalists.


Download the event flyer with speakers bios in Adobe PDF format here.

You can view videos of the panel discussion and interviews with the panelists here.

CGHR Working Paper #4: Threats to the Right to Life of Journalists

Click to view paper

The material presented at the Meeting of Experts formed the basis of a CGHR Working Paper, authored by Sarah Elliott, Mona Elbahtimy and Dr Sharath Srinivasan. Read the paper here.

Human Rights Quarterly Article: "Protecting the Right to Life of Journalists: The Need for a Higher Level of Engagement"

Unlawful Killing in Africa Image

Christof Heyns and Sharath Srinivasan have co-authored an article on protecting journalists' right to life published in the May 2013 issue of Human Rights Quarterly. The article considers the characteristics of deadly attacks on journalists over the last two decades and examines how the applicable legal and policy frameworks can be used better or improved to provide a higher level of protection. Read the article here.

Huffington Post guest post: The Story is Bigger Than War Correspondents

Thomas Probert   New picture

CGHR Associate Thomas Probert writes on the risks facing local and citizen journalists, linked to CGHR’s recent research on Journalists’ Right to Life. The article examines the threats to journalists outside direct conflict zones, including political repression, torture and organised crime retributions. Read the piece here.