NMA Backs Emergency Journalists Visa Proposals

The News Media Association has supported proposals to introduce a new emergency visa for journalists at risk as reporters covering the escalating Ukraine war face increasing threats to their safety.

The proposals were first put forward by the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom which provides advice and recommendations to governments around the world on how to prevent media freedom abuses.

In a written question last week, Damian Collins MP raised the issue with the Home Office asking what assessment the Home Secretary had made of the “implications for her policies” of the introduction of the new visa.

Supporting the proposals, NMA chief executive Owen Meredith said: “Reporting on conflict and war is incredibly difficult and dangerous and journalists should be afforded all their rightful protections to ensure that they can do their job as safely as possible.

“As a beacon for media freedom across the world, the United Kingdom must play the fullest part possible in offering support and safety to journalists who face threat simply for doing their job, providing us all with access to trusted news and information.

“The escalating conflict in the Ukraine would make this a timely and enormously welcome intervention as journalists put their lives on the line to shine a light on the horrific events occurring there.”

Chaired by Lord Neuberger, the panel was set up as part of the work of the of the Media Freedom Coalition which counts the UK and Canada among its founding members.

In its report on Providing Safe Refuge to Journalists at Risk, published in November 2020, it suggested that states should introduce a journalist-specific emergency visa as part of a raft of recommendations to strengthen media freedom across the world.

“This would be the most effective (and principled) way to address the current obstacles that journalists at risk encounter with the existing immigration pathways,” the panel said.

“The journalist-specific emergency visa would offer a humanitarian pathway for journalists and those engaging in journalistic activity. The visa should be open to those journalists in need of immediate or urgent protection due to an ongoing threat to them and/or their families and continue to be available until the risk subsides.”