May 29, 2018
NEW YORK - The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has welcomed the launch of a complaints mechanism for media representatives and human rights defenders ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, which will enable journalists covering the tournament and other official events to report press freedom violations directly to FIFA.
In a press release issued on Wednesday, FIFA stated that it would respond to complaints submitted through the mechanism by the commitments outlined in its Human Rights Policy and in a separate, detailed statement on human rights defenders and media representatives.
“The World Cup is about to get underway in one of the most challenging countries in which to practice journalism, and CPJ welcomes FIFA's efforts to ensure that journalists can report freely on the World Cup by launching a complaints mechanism,” said Courtney Radsch, advocacy director for CPJ. “The adoption of the mechanism is only a first step, however, as FIFA must ensure that both domestic and international journalists are aware of how to use it and that complaints are dealt with in a transparent and timely manner.”
Following the adoption of a mechanism by the International Olympic Committee in 2016, the reporting systems are indicative of an emerging norm to ensure that organizations like FIFA do more to hold host governments accountable for press freedom abuses that take place around major sporting events.
FIFA announced the mechanism weeks before the start of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, and following a nearly one-year process of consultations and input from stakeholders like CPJ and other expert organizations.
“Given the dangers media has historically faced while operating in Russia, journalists planning to cover the games and their editors should familiarize themselves with the risks and take steps to mitigate them,” said CPJ Emergencies Director Maria Salazar Ferro. “CPJ will be closely monitoring safety concerns during the World Cup, and providing updated information on how journalists can protect themselves and their information as needed.”
In a 2014 special report ahead of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, CPJ found that because of both official repression and self-censorship, journalists shied away from covering sensitive issues related to the Games such as the exploitation of migrant workers, environmental destruction, and forced evictions. Journalists working in Russia routinely face physical attacks, threats, arrest, and other forms of intimidation, CPJ research shows. – A CPJ press release
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