UNESCO Highlights Safety of Journalists at Bali Civil Society and Media Forum

The current pandemic has brought to the forefront the importance of the media and of access to verified information.

This point was highlighted at the 13th Bali Civil Society and Media Forum (BSCMF) that has traditionally taken place alongside the Bali Democracy Forum (BDF) in Bali, Indonesia. The theme of BCSMF 2020 is “Civil Resilience: Activisms during the Pandemic COVID-19”. This year, due to the pandemic, the forum was organized as a mixed event with in-person and online components.

The forum discussed many cross-cuttings themes intersecting human rights and democracy including freedom of expression and press freedom. The current pandemic and its repercussions on human rights issues as well as the survival of the news media industry and safety of journalists were the main talking points at the forum.

“Media is a victim of the economic crisis,” and “there is a growing concern that the business will not survive” this pandemic said Mr Agus Sudibyo, Member of Indonesian Press Council, who was one of the panel speakers. He urged the government to take measures to ensure the survival of news media beyond the current crisis. Mr Sudibyo also gave examples of the efforts by the press council to help journalists during this difficult time including providing subsidy and COVID-19 tests to journalists.

“Governments should recognize journalists covering COVID-19 as essential workers and be supported as such,” urged Dr Ming-Kuok Lim, the Advisor for Communications and Information based in UNESCO’s Office in Jakarta, who was also one of the panelists.

Other speakers on the panel included Ms Boonrat Apichattrisorn, Chair of International Affair Committee, National Press Council of Thailand, and Professor Jung Kim, University of North Korean Studies, Republic of Korea. The session was moderated by Dr Dinna Prapto Raharja from the International Relations Department of Binus University in Indonesia.

The BCSMF is hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia in collaboration with the Institute for Peace and Democracy (IPD) supported by various Indonesian and international partners as a part of Road to 13th Bali Democracy Forum. Representatives of civil society organizations and media from various countries attended the BCSMF 2020 virtually.

UNESCO is the leading United Nations agency on freedom of expression and coordinates the global implementation of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity as well as a Custodian Agency responsible for reporting on the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals’ Indicators on access to public information.