In an interview with Mr. Abdelmajid  Mrari, the Director of Middle East and North Africa division at AFD International , on the occasion of the international day to end impunity for Crimes against Journalists, he states that in light of rising  rates of violations against journalists and media professionals  around the world, the national, international and regional mechanisms are capable of prosecuting and ending the impunity of  perpetrators of violence against journalists.

Mr. Mrari declares that  some legal procedures are to be considered prior to the activation of these mechanisms and which the media institutions need to be aware of.

He adds that in the case of violations in conflict  zones, there is a single international mechanism that  can be activated efficiently;  that is: “the International Criminal Court ” in accordance with Article 8, because the cases are categorized as war crimes.

The Interview:

As the world celebrates the International Day to end Impunity for crimes against Journalists, we stay  helpless in front  of the rising number of victims. In your opinion, what  efforts to start with to address these violations?

Regarding  the  violations against journalists, media  professionals and activists, the first steps that must be taken are documenting these violations, whether they are cases of prevention, detention, torture or enforced disappearances.  Then, selecting  the correct procedure to deal with the violation;  through seeking national legal recourse, before moving to international justice.

Is this judicial procedure an essential condition for journalists, institutions and victims of violations or an optional procedure?

Indeed it is a necessary condition, This procedure is one of the actions that most media and human rights institutions and organizations do not pay attention to, because no appeal or complaint can be accepted unless this step is completed and after that only, it is possible to talk about other international or regional mechanisms.

What international legal mechanisms are available for victims of freedom of expression or their families or media organizations?

Resorting  to international mechanisms, including the activation of the roles of United Nations Special Rapporteurs, within the framework of the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenants on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; in addition to the Social Council, which has important secret as well as public mechanisms.  It is beneficial to consider these mechanisms  in order to serve justice, redress the victims, strengthen the rule of law and ensure accountability.

In this context, cases can be looked at within the framework of the efforts of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and Special Rapporteur on enforced or involuntary disappearances.

Do media and human rights organizations have the right to activate these mechanisms on their own? how?

Certainly,  the working institutions and the advocates of freedom of opinion and expression have full right to activate these mechanisms according to certain procedures, but the error may be in the work methods adopted by these organizations.

Can these International mechanisms act on their own, in case of reported violations?

What many people do not know is that there are specific steps that must be followed before these mechanisms are activated; for example, special rapporteurs or committees within the United Nations working groups cannot  act on their own, They require receiving complaints on the subject from the violated persons or institutions.

What regional mechanisms can be adopted?

Examples of  regional institutions that can be used to redress victims, prosecute perpetrators and prevent impunity, are the African Court on Human Rights, The Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights, which has an important role in ensuring justice and journalists’ safety and the protection of activists.

What is the distinction between violations committed in zones of peace and areas of war and conflict?

In the case of war, there is only one international mechanism that can be effectively activated in the case of violations against journalists in conflict zones; that is the International Criminal Court in accordance with Article8, because the cases are categorized as war crimes. I think , as a sort of adaptation with Article 8 of the  Rome Statue of International Criminal Court, the 1977 protocol considers all the crimes against journalists in conflict zones as war crimes

Interview conducted by Mohamed EL Chaidmi/DCMF