Tips For Journalists’ To Prevent Been Kidnapped
The following tips are excerpts from the book: ‘’The Kidnapping of Journalists: Reporting from High Risk Conflict Zones’’ written by Professor Robert G. Picard. Comprehensive suggestions and tactics can be distilled from detailed security and safety training briefings.
- Ensure your social media profile does not compromise your personal security and safety.
- Go along with clean laptops, mobile phones, etc.; think about using aliases for contacts.
- Enroll for hostile environment/safety training.
- Be cognizant of potential dangers in your place of assignment.
- Plan your journey, activities discreetly or carefully.
- Carry out a risk assessment and factor in contingency plans (both of your own and your media establishment).
- Bear in mind details that could be of help in the event that proof of life needs to be determined.
- Ensure your employer, family or loved ones are aware of where you are at every point in time and who you are meeting.
- Make arrangements for emergency communications; avail your employers and colleagues with contact details or phone numbers of numbers and Next of Kin (NOK).
- Be very wary of your supposed contacts or sources – do as much due diligence as possible and bear in mind that persons and groups may switch allegiances without warning.
- Avoid making yourself a target. Blend in so that you are not easily identifiable as a journalist when travelling.
- Victims or survivors of kidnapping need recovery time and must seek counseling against post-traumatic stress.
Survival Tips For Kidnapped Victims
If you find yourself kidnapped, it is not the end of the world, there’s a good chance you will regain your freedom. Sometimes what leads to harm or death is not necessarily the incident itself but how people respond to it.
- It is risky to play James Bond or re-enact Hollywood movie scenes if you know the kidnappers are well-armed, outnumber you and you certainly cannot extricate yourself. Best approach is passive cooperation.
- Sure you can throw furtive glances but seldom stare too strongly to give an impression you are trying to recognize them.
- Refrain from panicking, slow down your heart beat.
- If you are not blindfolded or sedated, try to figure out your location or routes they took and estimate approximately how long it took to arrive where you were taken to.
- Try to establish rapport, engage your abductors in small talk, hopefully they will not be too hard on you but see you as a human being rather than a hostage cash cow. Kidnappers tend to show some compassion if you share a common interest with them, it could be politics, religion, football etc.
- It is very important to find a way to let your kidnappers know about any special medical conditions you may have.
- Maintain your mental, physical health, dignity, self-respect and keep hope alive. Convince yourself deep in your mind that you will survive the incident.
- Stay alert! It is possible you can escape if there’s a slip-up or they are very careless. Chance of surviving a kidnapping incident is high especially if one survives the initial situation. Again, kidnappers tend to let their guards down or become careless if the victim exhibits no signs of trying to escape. Not advocating foolhardiness but it’s a bad idea to do a Usain Bolt if ample opportunity beckons.
Let’s be security conscious; promptly report strange, suspicious activity or security breach in your area to the Police or other law enforcement agencies. For Lagos State, the emergency police numbers are: 08063299264, 08127155071, 08079279349, 08065154338, 08127155150, 07035068242 and 08060357795. You can also call the following toll-free emergency numbers 767 and 112. High-time Nigeria had a 3-digit nationwide emergency number.
See Part A
Written by: Don Okereke
(Security Evangelist/Consultant/Analyst, Writer)
CEO, Holistic Security Background Checks Limited
Follow him on Twitter: @donokereke