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Articles

 
New Trends in Body Armors for Journalists
March 12, 2019
Author: Ralston Kome
Source: Safeguard Armour

Journalists are essential participants in the exercise of the basic freedom of free expression, which is why they are often targeted by those trying to impose tight control on public debate and citizens’ right to information. The huge number of journalists killed in the course of their work in recent years – more than 700 since 2006, according to a report presented by the Director-general of UNESCO at the International Programme for the Development of Communication on 21 November 2014 – shows the scale of the problem and the difficulty of dealing with it.

The figures are alarming. According to the UNESCO Director general’s report, the vast majority – almost 95 percent – of those killed in the course of their work were local journalists. Most were not covering armed conflicts, but were reporting on local stories.

Furthermore, in the past 10 years only 6.6 percent of cases involving the deaths of journalists have been resolved. This is an impunity rate of more than 90 percent, which sends out the devastating message that killing a journalist in order to silence him or her will have few repercussions for those responsible.

The safety of journalists has become a growing concern with journalism organizations gathering proposals on how to improve safety conditions for journalists. In its Journalists Security Guide, CPJ recommends using protective gear appropriate to the level of risk in each coverage situation. In the case of civil unrest, CPJ mentions the existence of thin, lightweight vests that can protect against knife attacks, rubber bullets or other hazards, as well as baseball caps with metal plates underneath.

To better deal with expected threats in their line of work, journalists can take advantage of the commercially available body armor systems. New cutting-edge materials and technologies have produced a number of concealable vests with excellent defence capabilities against a vast range of ammunition. A suitable choice for journalists is the Ghost body armor, which has breathable and lightweight qualities. Made with 100% DuPontTM Kevlar®, the vest can stop bullets fired by handguns, sub-machine guns, and high-powered rifles: this versatility offers comprehensive protection in any high-risk situation. A 3D Spacer mesh allows for better hear transfer and keeping the wearer cool in warm climates and weather.  This new technology provides exceptional fit and comfort even in extreme terrain.

Another option is the new Hybrid™ personal protection armor - designed to give police officers and security personnel more mobility and make it easier to operate in any environment. There have been significant improvements in both design and fit. It is easily concealable and lighter and well suited for urban situations and scenarios. Given that journalists operate in similar conditions, this is a good fit for them.

But it would be insufficient now for warzones, where military rifles are in use. In Venezuela, Ukraine and Syria, body armor rated up to at least a Level IIIa would be recommended, as it is designed to protect against more powerful weapons and still be worn underneath clothing. But donning a Level III body armor would be better, as only a Level III vest, which is the lowest level of protection recommended for most military situations, will stop bullets from the kind of high-powered rifles in use in the Ukraine.

Always try to stay informed on your choices for safety gear and make an informed decision when deciding on the style, type and level of protection you will need to do your job.  

When selecting body armor for personal protection, journalists would benefit from opting for protective systems that fit the requirements of law enforcement and security operatives. These systems are designed to offer reliable protection, comfort and concealability in any situation.