On Tuesday 11 October 2011, the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights opened a training workshop on “Protection of Journalists in International Humanitarian Law” (IHL), held at the Orient House Hotel in Gaza City.
The course aims to improve journalists’ skills in understanding and writing about IHL and its protection of journalists.
About 26 journalists participated in the workshop, which is part of the IHL project implemented with support from Diakonia.
Shirin Ash-Shobaki, coordinator of the training and mass communication unit at Al Mezan, opened the workshop by welcoming the participants before turning to the importance of journalists’ being familiar with IHL.
Journalists are shapers of public opinion and they are the persons best able to convey specific incidents to the public, particularly in the situation of armed conflict prevailing in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt).
This is particularly important given the recent Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip (Operation Cast Lead), which included flagrant violations of IHL and crimes against civilians and their properties.
In such a situation, it is important to build the capacity of journalists and other interested parties in IHL.
Ash-Shobaki emphasized to the participants the importance of using their newly acquired knowledge in their work, including in the cause of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory.
She also highlighted the importance of the relationship between human rights and IHL for protecting civilians in the oPt, particularly in connection with Israel’s obligations as a party to human rights conventions and the Fourth Geneva Convention.
She then reviewed the training’s goals and schedule with the participants.
Zaher As-Saqqa, a judge and expert in IHL, presented the first session of the course, on the historical framework of IHL, its content, protected groups, implementation, and the protection of journalists.
This workshop is part of a project titled “Promotion of IHL and ESCR [economic, social and cultural rights] through Education” which is being implemented by Al Mezan with support from Diakonia.
The project aims to raise awareness of international humanitarian law among the Gazan community in general, and to enable journalists in particular to make use of this body of law in their legal and judicial work.