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Journalism students put the spotlight on the laws of war

Sunday July 4, 2010

Journalism students are invited to test their investigative and writing skills in a competition on the laws of war, also known as international humanitarian law (IHL), organised by Red Cross.

'Each year humanitarian aid workers are attacked, abducted and hindered while trying to carry out their lifesaving activities -- despite the fact they are protected while doing so under IHL. In 2008 alone 260 aid workers were killed or injured in places like Darfur, Kabul and Gaza,' said Australian Red Cross National IHL Manager, Rebecca Dodd.

In this competition, run by Australian Red Cross, New Zealand Red Cross and the International Committee of the Red Cross, students are asked to submit a 1,000 word feature article focusing on the protection of humanitarian workers in times of armed conflict.

The 'Let them through and keep them safe' competition is open to students from Australia and New Zealand and has two sections, one for postgraduates and the other for undergraduates studying journalism. First prize in both categories is A$1,000, while second and third place winners will be awarded A$500 and A$250 respectively. Where possible the winning articles will be published.

'IHL comprises rules which try to limit the effects of armed conflict. The bedrock of IHL, and most well known IHL treaties, are the Geneva Conventions, which include restrictions on the methods and means of warfare, and lay down protections for certain groups of people.'

'Journalists often report on armed conflict - whether it be a case of genocide, a war crime or the use of cluster munitions - and it's vital they have a working knowledge of International Humanitarian Law. Journalists working in war zones have certain rights and responsibilities and need to know about the laws of war for their own protection,' said Rebecca Dodd.

The judging panel will include professional journalists and Red Cross representatives. Entries will be judged on originality, relevance, investigative skills, quality of writing, adherence to the word limit and an understanding of the principles of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

The competition -- which was first held in Australia last year -- closes on 17 September 2010 and winners will be announced in late October.

Media contacts:
Contact Red Cross media adviser Kim Batchelor on 0457 542 113 or