Briefer on Human Rights and Elections for Journalists
01 June 2022
Safety of journalists
More than ever, it is essential that, during elections, journalists have the right to “seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds” as guaranteed in articles 19 of the Universal Declaration in Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In particular, journalists must be able to report freely on election campaigns, provide information about the candidates and parties, convey political agendas, fact-check the statements made by political candidates, and investigate and expose any election fraud and violations. To do so, they must be able to work freely and in safety, without restraint or fear of punishment. They should not be harmed, threatened, or intimidated in any way. Yet, journalists face many threats during electoral periods.
The present briefer, developed by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and published in 2022, looks, from a human rights perspective, at the specific threats and other impediments that journalists encounter during elections, including gender-based violence, digital surveillance and other threats to the confidentiality of sources, as well as internet shutdown.
The briefer also details the rights that journalists have throughout the electoral process, from the pre-electoral period to the day of the election and when dealing with possible post-electoral issues. It examines as well the ethics and standards that journalists should respect, and under which specific and limited conditions the work of journalists can be restrained by governments during elections.