IFEX Alerts

Standard Information Required for Effective Alerts


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The following list presents the standard information included in an IFEX Alert:

1. When & Where
• Place, date and time of violation

2. Type of violation
• Name of individual, publication or other target
• Identification of victim (i.e. academic, camera operator, editor, reporter, newspaper vendor, etc.) or other type of target (book, newspaper, organisation, radio station, TV station, etc.)
• Nationality of victim, particularly if working abroad
• If target is a media outlet or publication, how often is it published? Who owns and/or publishes it? Does it have political affiliations?

3. Victim
• Name of individual, publication or other target
• Identification of victim (i.e. academic, cameraman, editor, reporter, newspaper vendor, etc.) or other type of target (book, newspaper, organisation, radio station, TV station, etc.)
• Nationality of victim, particularly if working abroad
• If target is a media outlet or publication, how often is it published? Who owns and/or publishes it? Does it have political affiliations?
• If the victim was a woman, was she treated differently because of her gender?

4. Violating party (if known)
• Who was responsible for the violation? i.e. security forces, armed insurgents, angry mob, etc.
• If the victim or his/her colleagues or family allege that the violation is attributable to a particular individual or group, that should be mentioned, even if there were no direct witnesses; likewise, mention any previous threats or attacks, and their perpetrators.
• Is there any indication that the victim's gender was a factor in the violation?

5. Probable motive
• What prompted the violation? i.e. an article, investigation, political affiliations
• Is the attack clearly linked to the media profession or a freedom of expression issue?
• Other details of the case. i.e. has the victim committed a violent act which explains the charges against them?

6. Authorities' justification for violation (when applicable)
• What are the legal and other reasons offered to explain the violation?
• What justifications do the violating party offer?
• What legal implications exist? i.e. length of possible sentence, probability of conviction, restrictions that may be in force until a final decision by a court is taken, etc.)
• Which law is being used? How does it relate to national, regional or international laws, declarations and other agreements? (i.e. does it violate OAS Conventions, ICCPR, etc.?)
• Are there any other factors that prevent the victim from seeking recourse or following up?

7. Other concerns
• If the victim is detained, do they have access to legal representation, family, etc.?
• Are there pressing medical concerns?
• If a publication is banned, has its property been confiscated, damaged, etc.?

8. Write for an international audience
• Define your terms - avoid slang or highly politically partisan language
• Choose words that will be understood worldwide, not just in your own country
• Provide the full names of political organisations, movements, etc., in addition to acronyms

9. Length
• Most alerts should be no more than a page in length - 5-6 paragraphs max. (special reports are the exception)
• Avoid lumping updates on cases involving multiple detentions into one alert, if that will make the alert longer than 1.5 pages
• Provide good, concise explanations of the key facts

10. Fact Checking
• Provide original investigation of the facts for legitimacy
• Verify the information – get the facts straight to avoid errors, which can be disastrous


Include Recommended Actions (when applicable)

Recommended action

• Actions recommended may go beyond expressions of protest and include strategies for putting pressure on a violator
• Other actions that can put pressure on a violator should be explicitly mentioned

Where to send appeals

• Always include names, addresses, and especially fax numbers, including the country and area codes, of government officials or appropriate non-governmental bodies to contact
• Indicate who should receive copies of protest letters (i.e. opposition parties, other media, etc.)


Things to Remember

Source

• Specify sources (i.e. colleagues or family of the victim, witnesses, lawyers, news reports, etc.) and confirm authenticity
• If possible, find an independent source. Specify if the source is confidential and state your confidence in the source. Avoid using anonymous sources

Security concerns

• Should distribution of information be restricted?
• Are there specific actions which should be avoided by readers of the alert?

Follow-up

• Remember to ensure proper follow-up of a case, including any new significant information as it becomes available in an update

Distribution

• How should the alert be distributed? Are there any restrictions to consider?
 
IFEX is a global network of committed organisations working to defend and promote free expression.
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