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13 décembre 2013 - Réunion thématique « Protéger les journalistes » - Remarques à la presse de M. Gérard Araud, représentant permanent de la France auprès des Nations unies

(En français et en anglais)

Bonjour à tous,

Nous venons d’avoir une discussion approfondie avec les membres du Conseil de sécurité sur la protection des journalistes.

Il était important pour la France sous sa présidence du Conseil de sécurité de ramener cette question sur la table. Puisque nous sommes tous encore sous le choc et l’émotion de l’assassinat le 2 novembre de deux journalistes français de RFI, Mme Ghislaine Dupont et M. Claude Verlon.

Nous devions partir de ce crime tragique pour rappeler que sur tous les terrains de conflit, les journalistes continuent de payer un lourd tribut pour faire leur métier.

76 journalistes ont été tués depuis le début de l’année 2013. A cela il faut ajouter des centaines de journalistes enlevés, torturés, victimes de harcèlement, avec un taux d’impunité exceptionnel de 90%.

Les Nations unies se sont saisies de cette question. La France a obtenu récemment, en hommage aux journalistes tués à Kidal, que le 2 novembre soit une journée consacrée à cette question. Et nous sommes reconnaissants à tous les Etats membres de nous avoir suivis.

Cette réunion nous a permis d’entendre les différents aspects de la lutte pour la protection des journalistes, venant de l’UNESCO, de la Cour pénale internationale, du représentant spécial pour la liberté d’expression. Des journalistes et des ONG – Reporters sans frontière – ont fait part de leur expérience.

C’était un geste nécessaire, c’était un geste en hommage à tous les journalistes qui ont été tués ou qui sont victimes de violences. Comme il a été dit par les journalistes, il y en a hélas de plus en plus.

Q : The Security Council moved very quickly to issue a press statement when the journalists were killed in Mali. Some people brought up that in Somalia where it is a pretty common occurrence, there have been dozens killed in the last couple of years. What decides whether the Council speaks on the death of journalists ? Is it up to the penholder ? Should there be some common way of reacting ? Also in Mali, MaliActu, this website that is broadcasting to the country was ordered by the Defense Ministry reportedly to take down an article about the finding of corpses outside of Timbuctu. It is the government that the Council, Serval and the Missions are all working with. What can be done about the governments, which UN peacekeeping supports, themselves either ordering censorship or not protecting journalists ?

I am not aware of the second aspect.

On the first aspect, there was a declaration of the Security Council on Mali. But it was not France that proposed the text. It depends on the will of the members of the Security Council ; any member of the Security Council may at any moment propose a text on any event. We were grateful to the United States who in this case put the text on the table.

We have a problem in peacekeeping operations regarding the relationship with the host country, when some of the host countries, in terms of freedom of press, of political life, have a behavior which is not up to the standards of the United Nations. Our Special Representatives, based on the mandate they have from the Security Council, are raising these issues with governments.

When you handle the human rights issue, very often the question is to wonder if you do it publicly or if you do it privately. It is an ongoing debate, whether you are more effective to defend human rights by screaming on the market place or by having a discreet approach. It is up to every Special Representative, and it depends also on what has happened, to decide what the best way to promote the values of the UN is. But these values are enshrined not only in the Charter but also in all our resolutions.

Q : During the conference it has been said there were two different approaches. The United States said that the Security Council shouldn’t deal only when there is an armed conflict, but also when the journalists are actually killed when they are investigating on corruption in a country. And then there was the reply of Brazil which said : “no, the Security Council shouldn’t deal when journalists are killed for crimes and so on”. I would like to know what your approach is, as the President of this conference. What are you closer to ?

It is an ongoing debate which is the competence of the General Assembly and the Security Council. It is a debate that you can’t answer in two minutes and one sentence. Personally, even if I am French, I don’t like the debate on principles, saying in principle what the answer is. We have to work on each case on its own merit. In some cases it is difficult to have a clear border between what is an armed conflict, what is not an armed conflict with victims. So let’s be pragmatic. There are some occasions where the General Assembly is more effective, there are some occasions we can go to the Security Council. But I don’t think that we have to open the debate about the competences. When a text is tabled at the Security Council, if the Security Council accepts it, it as a text. You know that among the members of the Security Council there are some countries which are very committed to the balance of competences between the different entities. Of course there are different sensitivities and you have heard about these different sensitivities. but I don’t take side, let’s look at the real issues.

Q : Why isn’t there a little more in the UN system, in the Council, naming of specific incidents and naming countries publicly ? Having a case by case basis seems to be the only way to stop it. You have to raise eyebrows regarding big and small Security Council nations where you know there is impunity and you know the censorship.

We heard a lot of very interesting proposals on how to improve what the UN is doing for the protection of journalists. What you said is one of the proposals. Guatemala and France are going to have a non-paper with all the proposals which have been presented by Reporters Sans Frontières, and after that maybe look at it and to see what is feasible, when it is feasible and how to move forward. For instance Reporters Sans Frontières insisted to have a group of eminent persons, an independent group of experts. Is it effective, is it a good idea, is it feasible, and is it acceptable ? And if it’s acceptable, under which conditions ? Now we have to make our own work on the basis of this meeting where we heard a lot of ideas.

Q : Monsieur l’Ambassadeur la question des rançons a été évoquée pendant ce débat, est-ce que vous pensez que les Nations unies devraient adopter une position commune ?

Le problème des rançons est un problème en droit, c’est-à-dire que certains veulent pénaliser le paiement de rançons. Dans le système du droit écrit, on ne peut pas pénaliser une mère qui paye une rançon pour son fils. Elle est soumise à ce qu’on appelle une situation de contrainte morale. On ne peut pas pénaliser quelqu’un qui fait quelque chose de mal sous contrainte morale. Donc la question n’est pas si simple que ça. Il y a des conséquences très particulières dans les différents types de droit. Par ailleurs, s’agissant des rançons, il y a des situations qui sont extraordinairement différentes. Evidemment dans le principe, il ne faut pas payer de rançon parce que ça encourage le crime. Mais une fois que vous êtes sorti de cette question de principe, il est très difficile d’aller plus loin de manière juridique. Mais évidemment nous sommes contre le versement de rançons.


En savoir plus sur la protection des journalistes.



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Organisation des Nations Unies Présidence de la République France Diplomatie La France à l'Office des Nations Unies à Genève Union Européenne Première réunion de l'ONU