ITN has called on all media organisations to support “Terry’s Law” – its campaign to make a specific crime of the wilful killing of a journalist.
The campaign, named after ITN reporter Terry Lloyd (pictured), who was killed in Iraq four years ago by American Marines, will lobby the British Government to seek an amendment to the Rome Statute of 1998 which set up the International Criminal Court with jurisdiction to try individuals for war crimes.
The campaign hopes to amend the war crimes statut by 2009 to include the killing of journalists..
Following an inquest last October, which found that Terry Lloyd was “unlawfully killed” by American troops, the US authorities have not acted to bring anyone to court for his death Last Monday, the broadcaster revealed the names of the members of the US platoon from which the second bullet, which killed Lloyd, was fired.
ITN editor-in-chief David Mannion told Press Gazette that although the broadcaster would continue to pursue the case with the US, “realistically they are not likely to be helpful”.
But he said he hoped the amendment would act as a legacy for Lloyd, as well as his interpreter, Hussein Osman, who was also killed, and cameraman Fred Nerac, who is missing and believed dead following the incident. Calling on all media organisations to support the campaign, Mannion said: “I would ask them to support us – it can only help. Journalists, camera crews and photographers have never been at greater risk because these conflicts are not conventional. The nature of conflicts has changed, journalists are no longer seen as simply independent, legitimate observers, they’re often seen as kidnap fodder or combatants or mouthpieces for government – or those things are at least used as an excuse. We need more protection and think this is a way to do it.”
Mannion defended the need for journalists to be marked out from civilians in conflict zones. “At the moment, the law makes no provision for the special and particular role journalists play in the coverage of conflicts. They are there for a legitimate purpose – that needs to be specified and recognised as a public service duty in a sense. We need an amendment that takes particular account of the journalist’s unique role.”
Jonathan Baker the BBC’s deputy head of newsgathering told Press Gazette: “David Mannion is absolutely right – it’s much more dangerous to be a foreign correspondent or reporter in a war zone and in lots of other countries at the moment, there’s evidence of journalists being targeted and their news currency no longer being respected. We would absolutely support anything that would improve security.
“As far as us an ITN and any other competitors are concerned, security is not a competitive issue. We are happy to work together and pool information and help each other out on security issues. Sometimes competition is something which can encourage us to take more risks than we would otherwise do and none of us want to do that.”
Chris Cramer, managing director of CNN International and president of the International News Safety Institute (INSI), said anything which stops the number of journalists around the world being killed is to be welcomed.
A Sky News spokesman said: “Sky News always regards the safety of journalists as paramount.”
Last December, the UN Security Council passed a resolution condemning attacks on journalists during armed conflicts and urging combatants to stop singling out members of the media – the first time it dealt specifically with journalists covering wars.
If successful, the ITN campaign could have implications for cases such as that of Welsh independent cameraman James Miller, killed by the Israel Defense Forces in 2003 while filming a documentary in Rafah. Last year a London jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing, but no one has been prosecuted for his death.