Journalists need strategies before entering conflict zones - The Star Online
The Star Online, 19 December 2014 - by Jastin Ahmad Tarmizi
PETALING JAYA: Journalists must come up with thorough risk assessment strategies before entering conflict zones, said Occupational Safety and Health Department director Saiful Azhar Mohd Said.
“Since 1992, 1,094 journalists and media persons have been killed in the line of duty. When it comes to conflict zones, journalists are at greater risk than most,” he told department heads and reporters of The Star in a briefing at Menara Star yesterday.
He said during the unrest in the Ukraine, 136 journalists had suffered over 74 days, from being beaten up by riot police or bandits to having their equipment damaged.
“Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1994, employees must take care of the safety, health and welfare of their employees,” said Saiful Azhar, adding that under this law, assignments to war-torn areas had to be on a voluntary basis.
“The organisation must ensure the life and safety of its employees is placed ahead of the task of retrieving news,” he said, adding that journalists had to have the freedom to terminate missions at will if it became too dangerous.
“They must also undergo training and specialised courses for work in conflict zones.”
He said besides training, journalists travelling to conflict areas had to be mentally and physically fit, as well as having access to physical and psychological counselling upon their return, if needed.
There must also be sufficient supply of safety equipment, necessary gear and medical supplies.
“There is no story worth dying for,” he said, quoting American journalist Terry Anderson who was held hostage by militants for six years.