193 Organisations Urge UN Secretary-General to Take Action to Secure Release of Jailed Journalists

As part of the #FreeThePress campaign, Civil Rights Defenders and 192 other press freedom and human rights organisations have written an open letter to UN Secretary-General António Guterres. 

We urge him to take immediate action to secure the release of journalists jailed around the world whose lives are at risk due to the spread of Covid-19. The UN Secretary-General should use his office to protect a free press and ensure the free flow of information at this crucial time.

Dear Mr. Secretary-General,

On behalf of the #FreeThePress campaign, made up of 193 press freedom and human rights organizations and the more than 11,337 concerned citizens who signed the petition, we urge you to take immediate action to secure the release of journalists jailed around the world whose lives are risk due to the spread of COVID-19.

For journalists who have been jailed for their work, freedom is now a matter of life and death. Imprisoned journalists have no control over their surroundings, cannot choose to isolate, and are often denied necessary medical care. Many of these journalists are already in poor or failing health. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists’ most recent prison census, there were at least 250 journalists behind bars in at least 33 countries. While some of those have been released, others still have been arrested.

Collectively we have written several letters to leaders of countries where journalists are jailed for their work; to the European External Action Service; and to UN Special Rapporteurs and the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, urging them to use their offices to advocate for the release of those imprisoned. We are sharing this petition with you, and with every country currently detaining journalists, in the hopes that you will use your voice to amplify this call by more than 11,000 people to #FreeThePress, and send this message to the member states that make up the United Nations.

The World Health Organization states that “People deprived of their liberty, and those living or working in enclosed environments in their close proximity, are likely to be more vulnerable to the COVID-19 disease than the general population.”

We welcomed the suggestion in your April 23 policy brief, COVID-19 and Human Rights: We are all in this together, that member states, “Resort to non-custodial sanctions and release of selected categories of prisoners is needed. Reducing numbers in pretrial detention, those detained for minor or political offences, near the end of their sentences, or detained unlawfully should be expedited.”

However, given the urgency of the situation and the vulnerability of these political prisoners, we implore you to take additional measures and make a public statement calling on member states to release jailed journalists immediately. We urge you to use your office to protect a free press and ensure the free flow of information at this crucial time.

Sincerely,

The #FreeThePress Campaign

  • The 88 Project
  • Abdorrahman Boroumand Center for Human Rights in Iran
  • Afghan Journalists Safety Committee
  • Afghanistan Journalists Center
  • African Centre for Media and Information Literacy
  • African Centre for Media Excellence
  • The African Editors Forum
  • AFTE Egypt
  • AGHS Legal Aid Cell
  • Alliance for Journalists’ Freedom
  • Alliance Internationale de Journalistes
  • Alliance of Independent Journalists Indonesia
  • Altermidya Network
  • Americans for Kashmir
  • Amnesty International India
  • Article19
  • Association des Journalistes Burundais en Exil
  • Association des journalistes du Burkina
  • Association des journalistes indépendants du Bénin
  • Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia
  • Association of European Journalists
  • Bahrain Center for Human Rights
  • Belarusian Association of Journalists
  • The Bloggers Association of Kenya
  • Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
  • Cambodian Center for Independent Media
  • Cambodian Journalists Alliance
  • Cameroon Community Media Network
  • Cameroonian Association of English-speaking Journalists
  • Canadian Media Lawyers Association
  • Cellule Norbert Zongo pour le journalisme d’investigation en Afrique de l’Ouest/Norbert Zongo Cell for Investigative Journalism in West Africa
  • Center for Human Rights in Iran
  • Centre for Human Rights & Democracy in Africa
  • Centre of Media Persons for Change, Chennai – India
  • CGNet Swara – India
  • CIVICUS.org
  • Civil Rights Defenders
  • The Coalition for Whistleblower Protection and Press Freedom
  • Coalition for Women in Journalism
  • Committee Against Assault on Journalists – India
  • Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative
  • Community Empowerment for Progress Organization
  • Consortium of Ethiopian Human Rights Organizations
  • Dhaka Tribune
  • Digital Rights Foundation
  • EG Justice
  • English PEN
  • Eswatini Editors Forum
  • European Centre for Press and Media Freedom
  • European Federation of Journalists
  • European Journalism Centre
  • European Media Initiative
  • Federação dos Jornalistas de Língua Portuguesa
  • Federation of Nepali Journalists
  • Federation of Somali Journalists
  • Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand
  • Free Media Movement
  • Free Press Initiative
  • Free Press Unlimited
  • Free Speech Collective – India
  • Freedom Forum
  • Freedom Network – Pakistan
  • Freedom of Expression Myanmar
  • Gambian Press Union
  • Ghana Journalists Association
  • Global Forum for Media Development
  • Guild of Professional Bloggers of Nigeria
  • Hong Kong Free Press
  • Human Rights First
  • Human Rights in China
  • Human Rights Network for Journalists- Uganda
  • Human Rights Watch
  • Hyderabad Journalists Federation – India
  • Hyderabad Union of Working Journalists – India
  • Hyderabad Working Journalists Federation – India
  • Imphal Free Press – India
  • Impulse Model Press Lab – India
  • Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam
  • Index on Censorship
  • Indian Federation of Working Journalists
  • Indian Journalists Union
  • INFORM Human Rights Documentation Centre
  • INK Centre for Investigative Journalism
  • Institute for Media and Society
  • International Centre for Investigative Reporting
  • International Federation of Journalists
  • International Media Support
  • International Observatory of Human Rights
  • International Press Centre, Lagos
  • International Press Institute
  • International Women’s Media Foundation
  • Internet Freedom Foundation – India
  • Internet Sans Frontieres
  • The Irrawaddy
  • James W. Foley Legacy Foundation
  • Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society – India
  • Jansandesh Times – India
  • Journalists Union of Assam
  • Kashmir Times – India
  • Kashmir Working Journalists Association – India
  • Kenya Correspondents Association
  • Kenya Union of Journalists
  • Kenya Editors’ Guild
  • Kerala Union of Working Journalists – India
  • Laws and Rights Awareness Initiative
  • Le Conseil national des patrons de presse du Togo
  • The Lede – India
  • Ligue des journalistes Tchadiens
  • Local Press Hong Kong
  • Maharat Foundation
  • Malaysiakini
  • Mandela Center International
  • Media Action Nepal
  • Media Council of Tanzania
  • Media Foundation for West Africa
  • Media Institute of Southern Africa
  • Media Monitoring Africa
  • Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance
  • Metro Center for Advocacy and Journalists
  • Mumbai Patrakar Sangh – India
  • Mumbai Press Club – India
  • Nai Baat
  • The Namibia Media Trust
  • National Union of Journalists in Iraq
  • National Union of Journalists of the Philippines
  • National Union of Journalists Peninsular Malaysia
  • Network of Women in Media India
  • New Bloom Magazine
  • New Naratif
  • Nigeria Union of Journalists
  • Observatoire de la Liberté de la Presse en Afrique
  • One Day Seyoum
  • Organisation Patronale des Médias du Gabon
  • Ossigeno per l’informazione
  • Overseas Press Club of Cambodia
  • Pakistan Press Foundation
  • Paradigm Initiative
  • Park Center for Independent Media, Ithaca College
  • Patronat de la presse tchadienne
  • PEN America
  • PEN Delhi – India
  • PEN Eritrea
  • PEN International
  • PEN Myanmar
  • PEN Nigeria
  • People’s Union for Civil Liberties – India
  • People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights – India
  • Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism
  • Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism
  • Press Association – India
  • Press Council of South Africa
  • Press Freedom Advocacy Association in Iraq
  • Press Union of Liberia
  • Radio Free Asia
  • REDHAC – Réseau des Défenseurs des Droits de l’Homme de l’Afrique Centrale
  • The Reporter, Taiwan
  • Reporters Sans Frontieres
  • Reporters Without Borders USA
  • Réseau des Journalistes Burundais pour la CPI
  • Réseau des Journalistes pour les Droits de l’Homme en Centrafrique
  • Right2Know
  • Rory Peck Trust
  • Siasat Daily – India
  • Sierra Leone Association of Journalists
  • SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom
  • Somali Journalists Syndicate
  • Somaliland Journalists Association
  • SOS Support Public Broadcasting Coalition
  • South African National Editors’ Forum
  • South Asia Free Media Association – Sri Lanka
  • South Asia Media Defenders Network
  • South Asia Women in Media, Sri Lanka
  • South Asian Journalists Association
  • Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association
  • Syndicat des Professionels de l’Information et de la Communication du Sénégal
  • Syndicat National des Journalistes du Cameroun/Cameroon Journalists’ Trade Union
  • Syndicat National des Journalistes Indépendants du Togo
  • Syndicat National des Professionnels de la Presse de Côte d’Ivoire
  • Syrian Journalist Association
  • The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy
  • Talk Journalism, India
  • Tamil Nadu Women Journalists Association – India
  • Telangana State Union of Working Journalists – India
  • Telangana Urdu Working Journalists Union – India
  • Tournons La Page
  • Union Burundaise des Journalistes
  • Union of Tanzania Press Clubs
  • Weiquanwang
  • West African Journalists Association
  • Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism
  • World Association of News Publishers
  • Zimbabwe Union of Journalists

We Are Watching.

Authoritarian governments must not use the corona pandemic as an excuse to repress human rights or silence critical voices. We are watching you. We will call out human rights violations and hold you accountable. Keep track of the world with us here.

Read more
Tags