Journalists in Exile

20 June 2007 at 19:03 | 1883 views

At least three journalists a month since 2001 have fled their country to escape violence, imprisonment, or harassment, the Committee to Protect Journalists found in a new report for World Refugee Day, June 20.

CPJ has documented 243 cases over the past six years in which journalists were forced into exile. The exiled journalists came from 36 countries, but more than half were from just five nations: Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Colombia, and Uzbekistan.

Only one in seven exiled journalists ever returns home, and those who remain in exile face slim opportunities in journalism, according to the report’s authors, CPJ Journalist Assistance Program Coordinator Elisabeth Witchel and Program Associate Karen Phillips. Less than one-third of the 209 journalists currently in exile have found work in their profession.

Joel Simon, CPJ’s executive director, deplored the conditions that have led to the exodus of journalists in so many countries and called on governments to investigate and offer protection when journalists are assaulted or threatened. “The fact that in two out of three cases, the exiled journalists were driven out of the profession altogether only finishes the job of those who seek to silence the press,” Simon said.

CPJ began tracking journalists in exile with the launch of its assistance program in July 2001. The program helps journalists in dire situations as a result of their work, including those who need to go into hiding or exile to escape threats.

CPJ is a New York-based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide.