Freedom of expression and journalists’ safety should be disaster-proof

UNESCO (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Radio is a powerful medium before, during and after an emergency or a disaster. Responding to emergencies is easier and more transparent when there is freedom of the expression and journalists can do their work while remaining safe. 

 

1. The impact that radio has in emergency situations is crucial. Without proper information, citizens are left to rumour on social media and their own judgment of the situation, which can be fatal.

2. During emergencies, journalists can:

  1. Impart accurate news and credible information;
  2. Provide educational and empowering content;
  3. Help implement plans;
  4. Expose corruption around disaster aid and policy failures and
  5. Give a voice to those affected by the emergency.

3. States should act tirelessly to ensure that when a crisis hits, laws that restrict freedom of expression are long since repealed, so that citizens can fully be informed.

4. Radio can make the right to seek and receive information possible. This is a practical way to facilitate the right to information (RTI) (also known as the right to know, or the right to access information).

5. The right of journalists to keep secret their confidential sources of information is to be protected even in times of emergency and disaster.

6. Access to information and localities for journalists is vital during emergencies and disasters, so they can freely report the latest news. Access to information for people saves lives.