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International pressure needed to guarantee safety of journalists worldwide

06 July 2017


More international pressure needs to be put on individual countries to guarantee the safety and rights of journalists to report in the public interest, the Society of Editors has said.

Ahead of the Society’s ‘Fighting for Real News’ conference in November, which will l
ook closely at restrictions placed on freedom of expression in the UK, Europe and more widely, the Society has called for more to be done to highlight countries worldwide that have a poor record of protecting the rights of journalists.

The Society said: “The right to seek, receive and impart information belongs to everyone and yet, at the turn of the 21st century, we have witnessed a rise in violations of freedom of expression in the UK, Europe and more widely.

While the recent publication of Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index for 2017 was somber reading for the UK, it was pitiful on a worldwide scale of increased human rights abuses against journalists.

“Since the failed coup attempt in July 2016 in Turkey, at least 156 media outlets have been shut down and approximately 2,500 journalists and other media workers have lost their jobs. Turkey is now the biggest jailer of journalists worldwide. The first trial of reporters accused of taking part in or supporting the coup are taking place as we speak and the accusations against them mirror those against dozens of journalists that have been imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of expression. Many of them face life imprisonment if they are found guilty. The deterioration of media freedom and President Erdogan’s readiness to throw journalists in jail for daring to question him is an appalling example of an attempt to stifle freedom of expression at a time when the country requires it more than ever.”

The Society, which campaigns for the universal right to freedom of expression, also highlighted the ongoing attacks and murder of journalists in Mexico as an example of human rights abuses that warranted more international condemnation.

It said: “While attacks on journalists in Mexico are nothing new – the country is one of the deadliest in the world for media workers – already in 2017 we have seen 7 journalists killed for simply doing their jobs. In March of this year, Miroslava Breach, a journalist for Mexican national newspaper La Jornada, was shot eight times in her car while pulling out of her driveway to take her 14-year old son to school. To date, nobody has been arrested for her murder. This is simply unacceptable.

“Since 2000, at least 106 journalists have been killed across Mexico and this does not include those that have ‘disappeared’. Mexican journalists continue to risk their lives to tell the truth and more needs to be done by the international community to highlight the threats that they face on a daily basis.”

The Society added: “The role of a free press that is vociferous, investigative and revelatory on behalf of the public and the communities they serve is vital in any society. Freedom of expression is a human right. More international pressure needs to be put on governments worldwide to ensure the safety, and freedom, of journalists to do their jobs.”

The Society’s annual conference, ‘Fighting for Real News’ will take place in Cambridge on Sunday 12 and Monday 13 November 2017. Booking is now open at   

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