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UNESCO warns of risks for journalists on environmental issues

Paris, May 3 (Prensa Latina) UNESCO drew attention on World Press Freedom Day to the risk faced by journalists who cover environmental issues and urged protecting them.

UNESCO conducted a study involving more than 900 reporters from 129 countries and found that 70 percent reported being targets of attacks, pressure, or threats while working on environmental issues. A quarter of the journalists who acknowledged hostile actions against them pointed to legal means as a weapon used to silence them; four out of 10 respondents reported physical attacks, and six out of 10 were harassed online.

The organization mourned 44 fatalities due to attacks on reporters covering the environment in the last 15 years; only five cases led to criminal sanctions.

The person responsible for Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists at UNESCO, Guilherme Canela, stated in a conversation with Prensa Latina that “journalists, scientists, defenders of sustainable development and artists, who use their freedom of expression to talk about the environmental agenda, are unfortunately under attack.”

Canela considered as a relevant fact the dedication of World Press Freedom Day to address the worrying issue and the urgent call to protect those who suffer violence and threats.

According to Canela, the published study showed other conclusions that affect journalist work on a pressing issue, self-censorship (50 percent of participants) and mental health (75%).

“The message to send to the nations is to remind them of their obligation to comply with the so-called three Ps: prevention, protection, and justice for victims of violence in the exercise of their work, a phenomenon increasingly present in the Internet,” the functionary said.