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SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom - Samir Kassir Foundation

Perugia Declaration for Ukraine

Saturday , 09 April 2022
Photo credit: Max Kukurudziak

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has underlined once again the essential role of independent, ethical journalism in assisting citizens to make life-or-death decisions, informing the world, and holding the powerful to account.

As a powerful antidote to the disinformation and propaganda that characterise hybrid warfare, and as a pillar of democracy upon which other freedoms and rights depend, journalism in Ukraine is undergoing a terrible assault.

The targeting, torturing, and killing of journalists is abhorrent and must be stopped. Those responsible must be held accountable and brought to justice under national and international law. Vicious online attacks against news organisations and individual journalists must also cease. We condemn Russia’s attacks on press freedom and freedom of expression in Ukraine in the strongest possible terms.

The safety and security of all journalists to report freely are essential to ensure that the world understands the reality and facts of the ongoing war, including the humanitarian consequences.

We stand in solidarity with all journalists and independent media covering Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

The greater the threat to Ukrainian journalists’ lives, livelihoods, and ability to do their jobs, the greater will be our efforts to support them. Funding, protective gear, equipment, housing, training, office space in foreign cities, and psychosocial support – we will do everything we can to support our Ukrainian colleagues’ ability to continue reporting and serving the urgent needs of their audiences.

A window of opportunity for journalism and journalists everywhere

In countries with access to independent sources of news, an often sceptical public are recognising the bravery, commitment and professionalism of journalists and media outlets, both Ukrainian and international. Even governments with hostile dispositions to free, independent media are being forced to acknowledge the vital role journalism plays in ensuring that the world sees the invasion of Ukraine for what it is. Tech companies too are waking up to the fact that not all information is equal, and that there is a moral imperative to give due prominence to professional, independent, public interest journalism.

This nascent, new-found and rekindled recognition of journalism’s value among the public and policy makers is fragile. Ukrainian reporters and international journalists reporting from Ukraine have earned a window of opportunity. The greatest leaps of progress are often made in times of crisis. We, collectively, cannot afford to squander it.

For the sake of the immediate future and safety of our Ukrainian colleagues, and the long term viability of independent, public interest journalism everywhere, this is a moment that we all need to rise to.

For the benefit of media and journalists everywhere, we:

  • Insist that states and armed groups must release all imprisoned and kidnapped journalists, including those detained or sentenced under the guise of prohibiting defamation or countering terrorism;
  • Acknowledge that many conflicts and crises have at times not received the united, rapid and sustained response that our collective conscience demands;
  • Affirm that field producers are journalists not “fixers” – their language skills, cultural and regional understanding and strong networks of contacts are crucial to international reporting and deserve the same rights, respect, support, social security and credit as all journalists covering conflicts.
  • Commit to intensifying our efforts to support journalists in conflict zones, in exile, and facing hardship everywhere, including independent media/journalists from Belarus and Russia who have been forced to flee their countries;
  • Russia’s crackdown on dissent; its attacks against press freedom; its intimidation of independent journalism – these actions are forcing journalists who remain committed to truth-telling and free speech into silence or exile. Russian people are being denied access to the truth.

To international media and journalists, we ask that you:

  • Where legally permitted, provide surplus personal protective equipment to organisations able to transport this to Ukraine;
  • Draw attention to the social insecurity of Ukrainian field producers and translators’ who help foreign media by providing them with proper pay, insurance and additional safety guarantees;
  • Wherever possible make safety training available to Ukrainian journalists and to all journalists, including freelancers reporting from Ukraine, and “show the same concern for the welfare and safety of freelancers, local journalists and media workers as they do for their staff” including providing the same protective equipment to Ukrainian colleagues as to international reporters;
  • Open your doors to displaced journalists and newsrooms. Give them somewhere to work from. Hire them if you can afford to;
  • Listen to the calls of Ukrainian colleagues to use appropriate and accurate language when reporting on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, consistent with the ethical standards of independent journalism;

To private and public donors and funders of professional journalism, we ask that you:

  • Urgently increase and provide flexible financial support to media that produce independent, ethical journalism, enabling them to hire or keep paying reporters, editors, and producers who are reporting on the Russian invasion of Ukraine;
  • When you fund journalism, remember, journalism is a public good. It is an end in itself, a pillar of democracy upon which many other freedoms and rights depend. Do not undermine its independence by seeking to instrumentalise it as a tool of strategic communication or as a means to achieve other development objectives. Treat it with the respect it deserves and follow the well-established best practices and guidance on effective support to journalism;
  • Simplify the process of applying for funding in emergencies: Application forms must be in local languages and should not require large amounts of internet data by requiring numerous files to be uploaded;
  • Ensure that media and journalism are included in all aid coordination mechanisms;
  • Provide support not just for newsrooms, but individual journalists and freelancers from Ukraine, as well as via mechanisms of fellowships or content production projects;
  • Consider providing not only financial support, but also methodological and technical support. This can be the transfer of equipment for affected editors, training or publication of methodological materials.

To the EU, EU member states, members of the Media Freedom Coalition and all states that care about the right to freedom of expression and access to information to:

  • Provide emergency visas and safe havens for Ukrainian journalists, as well as an independent journalists from Belarus and Russia, to re-establish their bases of operations and continue reporting;
  • Condemn and push back against the trend of criminalising journalism, a hallmark of creeping authoritarianism in many parts of the world. Journalism is not a crime;
  • Use all multilateral fora to defend the rights of journalists and advance their protection as civilians under international humanitarian law, particularly in the context of Russia’s war on Ukraine;
  • Contribute to all efforts to investigate and bring to justice cases of journalists targeted in this war.

To technology, telecoms, internet intermediaries and advertisers, we ask you to:

  • Work with the media and journalism community to identify, protect and uplift independent, ethical journalism, fact-checking, and media literacy efforts;
  • Prevent automated takedowns of journalistic content documenting evidence of international crimes of aggression, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious human rights violations. These need to be available for journalists, fact-checkers, investigators and other stakeholders to effectively bring perpetrators to account and end impunity. Strengthen transparency and notice procedures, expedite appeal and remedy;
  • Reverse commercial incentives – both through algorithms and content moderation policies – that discriminate against public-interest journalism’s ability to reach audiences and monetise high-quality content;
  • Work with advertisers to stop the use of blacklist technology to block ads from appearing next to journalism and news media stories that mention conflicts like Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, the COVID-19 pandemic and other critical health and social issues;
  • Deliver internet accessibility to all: prioritise maintaining internet accessibility and connectivity, and promote the right to access information.

We continue to stand in solidarity with all journalists around the world who work in areas of conflict or where freedom of expression is limited, to deliver trusted information in the public interest.

Signatories (organisations):

  1. ACOS Alliance
  2. Afghanistan Journalists Center (AFJC)
  3. Ahval News
  4. Albanian Media Institute (AMI)
  5. Anglo-Magyar Training & Media
  6. ARTICLE 19
  7. Associação Brasileira de Jornalismo Investigativo (Abraji)
  8. Association des journalistes européens – France
  9. Association Générale des Journalistes Professionnels de Belgique (AGJPB)
  10. Association Luxembourgeoise des Journalistes Professionnels (ALJP)
  11. Association of Austrian Community Broadcasters
  12. Association of Caribbean Media Workers
  13. Association of Freelance Journalists in Finland (AFJ)
  14. Association of Independent Press (API)
  15. Association of Professional Journalists of Albania (APJA)
  16. BaleBengong (Indonesia)
  17. Baltic Internet Policy Initiative
  18. Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication
  19. BBC Media Action
  20. Belarusian Association of Journalists
  21. Blueprint for Free Speech
  22. Border Center for Journalists and Bloggers
  23. Brazilian Newspaper Association (ANJ)
  24. Bundesverband Bürgermedien (bvbm) e. V.
  25. Bylines Networks Limited
  26. Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma
  27. Canadian Journalism Foundation (CJF)
  28. CFI Medias
  29. Centre for Investigative Journalism (CIJ)
  30. Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD)
  31. Circular Initiatives Roadmap (CIR)
  32. Coda Story
  33. Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
  34. Community Media Forum Europe (CMFE)
  35. Community Media Solutions (CMS)
  37. CREOpoint
  38. The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation
  39. Daraj Media
  40. Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma
  42. Detector Media, Ukraine
  43. Deutsche Journalistinnen- und Journalisten-Union (dju) in ver.di
  44. Digital Content Next
  45. Dutch Association of Journalists (NVJ)
  46. DW Akademie
  49. Ethical Journalism Network (EJN)
  50. European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
  51. European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)
  52. European Journalism Centre (EJC)
  53. European Press Prize
  54. Fathm
  55. Federación de Asociaciones de Periodistas de España (FAPE)
  56. Finnish Foundation for Media and Development (Vikes)
  57. Free Press Unlimited (FPU)
  58. Fojo Media Institute
  59. Fundación Gabo
  60. Fondation Hirondelle
  61. Foundation “Souspilnist”, Ukraine
  62. Frontline Freelance Register
  63. Gazeta Wyborcza Foundation / Ukrainian Media Fund
  65. Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD)
  66. Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN)
  67. Global Voices Advox
  68. Global Youth & News Media
  69. The GroundTruth Project
  70. Hungarian Press Union
  71. IFEX
  72. Impressum – Swiss Journalist’s Federation
  73. Independent Association of Georgian Journalists
  74. Independent Journalism Center, Moldova
  75. Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia
  76. Independent Media Trade Union of Ukraine
  77. Independent Trade Union of Journalist and Media Workers – North Macedonia
  78. Institut Panos Grands Lacs
  79. Institute for Regional Media and Information (IRMI, Ukraine)
  80. Institute of Communication Studies
  81. Institute of Mass Information, Ukraine
  82. International Academy Serbia
  83. International Center for Journalists
  84. International Consortium of Investigative Journalists
  85. International Institute – International Media Center
  86. International Media Support (IMS)
  87. International Press Institute (IPI)
  88. Internews
  89. Internews Ukraine
  90. International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN)
  91. Investigate Europe
  92. Journalists Trade Union of Azerbaijan
  94. Jnomics Media
  95. Lithuanian Journalists Union
  96. Lithuanian National Television and Radio (LRT)
  97. Lviv Media Forum
  98. Maharat Foundation
  99. Magdalene
  100. Media Action Nepal (MAN)
  101. Media Association for Peace (MAP)
  102. Media Development Investment Fund
  103. Media Diversity Institute (MDI)
  104. Media Impact Funders
  105. Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)
  106. MediaLab.NRW
  108. Mensagem de Lisboa
  109. Namibia Media Trust (NMT)
  110. National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU)
  111. NEO NEWS HD
  112. New Narratives
  113. Northern Studio
  114. One World Media
  115. Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP)
  116. Outriders
  117. Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)
  118. Panos Institute Southern Africa (PSAf)
  119. Paper Trail Media
  120. Press Workers Trade Union Cyprus
  121. Project Syndicate
  122. Public Interest Journalism Lab
  123. Public Interest News Foundation
  124. Public Media Alliance (PMA)
  125. Pulitzer Center
  126. Radio Ambulante Studios
  127. Radio Bullets
  128. Report for America
  129. Report for the World
  130. Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
  131. RIA Media Corporation (Ukraine)
  132. Samir Kassir Foundation – SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom
  133. Searchlight Development Action – Cameroon
  134. Social Weaver
  135. Society of Journalists, Warsaw
  136. South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO)
  137. Stowarzyszenie Dziennikarzy Rzeczypospolitej Polskie (SDRP)
  138. SyriaUntold
  139. Tanzania Media Practitioners Association
  140. TerminiTV
  141. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism
  142. THE CITY
  143. The Fix Media
  144. The Frontline Club (The Frontline Club Charitable Trust)
  145. The Ukrainians Media
  146. The VII Foundation
  147. The University of Georgia
  148. Thomson Foundation
  149. Thomson Reuters Foundation
  150. Trade Union of Croatian Journalists
  151. Transitions
  152. Turkish Association of Journalists (GCD)
  153. Vlaamse Vereniging van Journalisten (VVJ)
  154. Voxeurop
  155. Will Media
  156. Women4europe
  157. World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA)
  158. World Editors Forum
  159. The University of Georgia
  160. Union of Journalists in Finland
  161. Zamaneh Media
  162. (Belarus)

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