A person who attempts to obtain or comments on or uses information for the press or for radio or television; any correspondent, reporter, photographer, or cameraman, or his/her film, radio or television technical assistant, habitually carrying out such activities as his/her main occupation.
“Journalists” are civilians and therefore enjoy the protection accorded to civilians unless and for such time as they take a direct part in hostilities.
The law of international armed conflict distinguishes two categories of journalists:
a. Accredited correspondents (war correspondents), who have a special authorization permitting them to accompany the armed forces.
⇒ Accredited correspondents are included among those who accompany the armed forces without being members thereof. Their status must be attested by an identity card. Captured accredited correspondents are prisoners of war.
b. Independent journalists engaged on dangerous missions in areas affected by hostilities.
⇒ Independent journalists operating in areas of armed conflict may obtain an identity card attesting their status as a journalist. Independent journalists who fall into the power of a Party to the conflict are civilians enjoying the ordinary protection granted to civilians by the law of armed conflict.
Members of the armed forces who have a function connected with information within the armed forces (press service, cinematographic service, etc.) are not journalists.
See also Media
GCI, 13/4 (see ICRC updated Commentary)
GCII, 13/4 (see ICRC updated Commentary)
UN, Secretary-General’s Reports on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict (Part A.)
Libya, Report of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (2014/15)
BALGUY-GALLOIS Alexandre, “Protection des journalistes et des médias en période de conflit armé”, in IRRC, No. 853, March 2004, pp. 37-67.
BOITONMALHERBE Sylvie, La protection des journalistes en mission périlleuse dans les zones de conflit armé, Brussels, Édition de l’Université de Bruxelles & Bruylant, 1989, 404 pp.
GASSER Hans-Peter, “The Protection of Journalists Engaged in Dangerous Professional Missions”, in IRRC, No. 232, February 1983, pp. 3-18.
GEISS Robin, “The Protection of Journalists in Armed Conflicts”, in German Yearbook of International Law = Jahrbuch für Internationales Recht, Vol. 51, 2008, pp. 289-319.
LISOSKY Joanne M. & HENRICHSEN Jennifer, “Don’t Shoot the Messenger: Prospects for Protecting Journalists in Conflict Situations”, in Media, War and Conflict, Vol. 2, No. 2, 2009, pp. 129-148.
MINEAR Larry, SCOTT Colin & WEISS Thomas G., The News Media, Civil War and Humanitarian Action, Boulder, London, Rienner Publishers, 1996, 123 pp.
MOORE Douglas W., “Twenty-First Century Embedded Journalist: Lawful Targets?” in The Army Lawyer, July 2009, pp. 1-32.
D’ABOVILLE Benoît, “Médiatisation des opérations de paix et respect du droit international humanitaire ?”, in Annuaire français de relations internationales, 2009, pp. 1027-1036.
GASSER Hans-Peter, “The Journalist’s Right to Information in Time of War and on Dangerous Missions”, in YIHL, Vol 6 (2003), 2006, pp. 366-388.
SAUL Ben, “Prosecuting War Crimes at Balibo under Australian Law: the Killing of Five Journalists in East Timor by Indonesia”, in The Sydney Law Review, Vol. 31, No. 1, 2009, pp. 83-120.
STOLL Philippe & OBEROI Surinder (eds), Media Reporting: Armed Conflict and Violence: South Asian Senior Editor’s Conference 2007, Dhaka, Bangladesh, Dhaka, ICRC, Press Institute of Bangladesh, 2007, 144 pp.