130 journalists are currently jailed worldwide for having tried to keep us informed*
Sadly, this figure hardly alters. Every year on the same date, Reporters Without Borders gives the same report: Some 30 governments in the world continue to jail journalists whom they consider a nuisance. For these throw-back leaders, imprisonment remains the sole response to criticism from the men and women of the press.
But this year, the situation has deteriorated still further. Of the 15 detainees in Eritrea, four are believed to have died. These four men have almost certainly lost their lives because of appalling prison conditions. The Eritrean government remains silent about it, despite distressed appeals from the families and friends of these journalists.
To the figure of 130 imprisoned journalists, should be added six media assistants (interpreters, drivers, technicians, bodyguards and so on.) and 63 cyber-dissidents who are also being held.
The vast majority of these journalists, imprisoned for wanting to do their job, work for their countries’ newspapers and have been sentenced for reasons linked to national security such as “disturbing public order”, “destabilising the state” or “damaging internal security”.
China, with 33 journalists in prison and Cuba, with 24, have for the past four years been the two biggest prisons in the world for journalists. Governments in Beijing and Havana release journalists little by little, often only a few months before the end of their sentences. And others almost immediately take their place.
Azerbaijan and Iran are the countries with the largest number of prisoners recently sentenced to jail terms. Most of the detained journalists were arrested during 2007. In Iran, the same scenario occurs every year. Journalists are arrested, and then released a few months later in exchange for substantial bail. However in Azerbaijan this is a new situation, which reflects a real deterioration in the state of press freedom and a hardening stance towards critical journalists on the part of the authorities.
The longest-serving prisoner is the Libyan Abdullah Ali Al-Sanussi Al-Darrat, reportedly held since 1973. The Libyan authorities have never replied to frequent inquiries made about him.
Reporters Without Borders dedicates this day of 10 December to all journalists in jail because of their ideas. The organisation calls on media which sponsor a colleague to actively campaign to get their plight known. By breaking the silence which often surrounds arrests of journalists and in making their atrocious prison conditions known, we hope to be able to protect them from their jailers.
Reporters Without Borders and the Fondation de France on 5 December in Paris named Eritrean Seyoum Tsehaye as “Journalist of the Year 2007”. The other laureates were: the Journalistic Freedom Observatory of Iraq, the Democratic Voice of Burma, Egyptian blogger Kareem Amer and Chinese couple Hu Jia and Zeng Jinyan. Click here to get the full press release
Reporters Without Borders publishes its 26th book of photographs on the work of photographer Sabine Weiss, comprising 100 tender photos in black and white.
Reporters Without Borders publishes three photo books a year. The sale of these works is the organisation’s main source of income. Every cent of the 9.90 € cover price goes to the organisation to pay for its daily press freedom work: assistance to journalists and their families as well as to media in difficulty, on-the-spot investigations in the case of murders, lawyer’s fees in trials involving journalists and so on.
Coming after that of Yann Arthus-Bertrand, this book is devoted to the work of photographer Sabine Weiss, represented by the Rapho agency. Her keenest interest has been to “show life and people simply and soberly, free of contexts or objectives.” For this collection, she has offered Reporters Without Borders photos of children and street scenes at home and abroad. “
‘ 100 Sabine Weiss photos for press freedom is on sale at newsagents and Relay outlets, thanks to the support of the NMPP, the UNDP and the SNDP, and at the FNAC, in 500 book shops throughout France and in major department stores, thanks to Interforum Editis.
‘ 144 pages (100 pages of photographs and several portraits of imprisoned journalists, cyber-dissidents and bloggers).
9.90 €, on sale from Monday 10 December 2007.