The members of the International Press Institute, meeting at their 64th Annual General Assembly during the IPI World Congress on March 28, 2015 in Yangon, Myanmar, adopted by unanimous vote a resolution calling for the release of journalists detained in Syria, for an end to violence targeting journalists there, and for greater efforts both inside Syria and abroad to ensure journalists’ safety.
According to IPI’s Death Watch, at least 74 people have died attempting to report from Syria since the current conflict first erupted in 2011, including 2013 IPI World Press Freedom Heroes Marie Colvin and Mika Yamamoto. Some of those killed are among the dozens of journalists kidnapped or detained in the country in the last four years, including Americans James Foley and Steven Sotloff, whose grisly executions were recorded and aired publicly by the Islamic State group.
IPI members called on all parties in Syria to release all journalists currently being held in the country. They specifically called for the release 2015 IPI World Press Freedom Hero Mazen Darwish, imprisoned for over three years on spurious terrorism charges; Darwish’s two colleagues from the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM), Hussein Ghrer and Hani Zaitani; and freelance American reporter Austin Tice, who has been missing since August 2012.
IPI members further called on all parties to comply with international obligations forbidding the targeting of journalists and for all parties to allow reporters to cover the conflict free from the threat of violence or detention.
Finally, IPI members called on news organisations and the journalists who report for them from Syria, including freelance journalists, to clearly define the rights and responsibilities both parties owe one another under that relationship, and to work together to ensure that journalists reporting from Syria take all reasonable and practicable safety precautions.