1. Daily action: press releases and protest letters
Before taking action, Reporters Without Borders gathers all available information about press freedom violations. After it has been checked, the organisation publicises a case by sending protest letters to the authorities and a story about it to local and national media.
More than 1,000 press releases and protest letters were issued in 2006, with the aim of:
Exerting pressure on governments that undermine press freedom.
Making the media and the public aware of the situation and encouraging them to speak up for persecuted journalists and media outlets.
2. Sponsorships / adoptions
Since 1989, Reporters Without Borders has appealed to French and international media to “adopt” journalists thrown in prison for doing their job. These sponsors are asked to support the prisoners by calling regularly for their release, to ensure they are not forgotten and in the hope such publicity with give them some protection from their jailers.
3. Fact-finding missions
Information gathered by our International Secretariat is not enough in some serious cases, so we send fact-finding missions to the country concerned to investigate murders of journalists, talk to their families and lawyers and meet government and other officials. The missions also publicise the work of Reporters Without Borders to the local media and lobby the government to investigate the case and end the impunity enjoyed by those who kill journalists.
More than a dozen fact-finding missions were sent out in 2006, including to Libya, Gaza, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Maldives and Tibet.
4. Help for imprisoned journalists and media in difficulty
Reporters Without Borders gave financial assistance to the families of about 100 imprisoned journalists in 2006 to pay for legal fees or medical expenses, or to help out a journalist or media outlet in difficulty.
Examples were money to help an exiled Eritrean journalist and funding to organise a meeting in Peshawar (Pakistan) to push for an investigation of the kidnapping and murder of journalist Hayatullah Khan. The meeting was held with a partner organisation, the Tribal Union of Journalists.
Other examples are listed on the Reporters Without Borders website: www.rsf.org under “What we do with our money.”
5. Help for refugee journalists
This section of Reporters Without Borders helps journalists forced to flee their country with any problems they have applying for political asylum.
132 requests for asylum made in 2006 were monitored and investigated by the department to ensure applicants were genuine journalists targeted by the authorities for doing their job.
52 cases were supported by the organisation. These journalists came from 42 countries and sought refuge in Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Senegal, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom, and 31 of them managed to get asylum.
The department also helps journalists to bring their families to their country of refuge and to find jobs and housing.
The Journalists Residence
This was founded by French journalist Danièle Ohayon and film producer Philippe Spinau, with the backing of Reporters Without Borders, and opened in Paris in 2002, on 3 May, which is World Press Freedom Day.
Each year it houses about 30 journalists supported by the refugees department who stay there for six months while their applications are being processed. The residence meanwhile helps them to become familiar with and understand their future host country (especially, if need be, its language) and help them resume journalistic work.
6. Lightning operations
To make itself heard, to protest against flagrant press freedom violations, and when events require it, Reporters Without Borders stages lightning operations during official visits of foreign heads of state or government members.
These operations, widely covered by the media, enable the organisation to exert pressure on the many countries that violate freedom of expression but are also very concerned about their image, in their quest for funding from the international community. They also do not like being highlighted by international human rights organisations.
The murder of Samir Kassir still unpunished - June 2006
French-Lebanese journalist Samir Kassir was killed on 2 June 2005 by a car-bomb in front of his home in the eastern Beirut suburb of Ashrafieh.
Exactly a year later, Reporters Without Borders paid tribute to him at the Trocadéro Human Rights Plaza in Paris when about 50 activists unfurled a giant Lebanese flag bearing his photo.
Bloody silence in Turkmenistan - September 2006
A score of Reporters Without Borders activists protested against the violent prison death of Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty stringer Ogulsapar Muradova in September 2006 (after being held three months) by occupying the Turkmenistan embassy in Paris for three hours.
The organisation also called for the release of two other imprisoned journalists and human rights activists — Annakurban Amanklychev, of the production company Galaxie-Presse and stringer for French TV station France 2, and Sapardurdy Khajiev.
“What did Guy-André Kieffer know?” - October 2006
About 30 activists from Reporters Without Borders and the “Guy-André Kieffer Truth Committee,” accompanied by the journalist’s wife and family members, demonstrated at the opening of the Paris Chocolate Fair in Paris on 28 October to call the attention of visitors to the investigations that Kieffer was conducting in Côte d’Ivoire when he was kidnapped in Abidjan in April 2004.
The protesters slapped stickers on the Côte d’Ivoire stand, wound tape around it and handed out leaflets with Kieffer’s photo and the words “In Côte d’Ivoire, cocoa can kill. What did Guy-André Kieffer know?”
Kieffer was kidnapped in an Abidjan supermarket car-park on 16 April 2004 after falling into a trap set up by an aide of President Laurent Gbagbo and has not been heard of since.
24 Hours Against Online Censorship - November 2006
Reporters Without Borders launched a major campaign on its website to oppose online censorship and publicise the plight of the 60 cyber-dissidents in prison around the world.
Internet users were invited to deplore censorship by clicking on links. About 17,000 people voted on the map showing enemies of the Internet, 3,300 posted messages of support and 340 left voice messages for Yahoo! founder Jerry Yang. 55 blogs were also created on the Reporters Without Borders blog platform www.rsfblog.org.
Reporters Without Borders activists meanwhile staged events in New York and Paris.
Advertising vans drove through the streets of New York displaying large posters showing a world map with Internet “black holes” and parked outside the offices of Yahoo! Advertising bikes also drove round the city.
In Paris, large images were beamed onto public monuments and a world map of Internet censorship was hung on the façade of the Saint-Lazare railway station and the Opera building at the Bastille. A version was also projected onto the front of Yahoo!’s Paris offices. Reporters Without Borders activists asked for a meeting with the firm’s officials to hand over the voice-messages gathered during the 24-hour event.
“Decoration for Putin dishonours France” - November 2006
A score of Reporters Without Borders activists gathered in front of the Legion d’honneur Museum in Paris when it was inaugurated on 17 November, but were pushed back by police and kept at a distance as they displayed the Légion d‘honneur insignia in protest against it being awarded to the Russian president. Posters and banners noted that Putin was a “predator of press freedom” and that Anna Politkovskaya, murdered on 7 October, was the latest victim of violence against journalists in Russia.
In October, Reporters Without Borders formally asked the French Council of State and the French president to strip Putin of the highest grade (Grand Cross) of the Légion d’honneur he had been presented with on 22 September.
Cuba, the world’s second biggest prison for journalists - December 2006
The day before the 50th anniversary of the 2 December landing in Cuba of the Castro brothers rebel yacht Granma, Reporters Without Borders publicly demonstrated its solidarity with imprisoned Cuban journalists. Watched by foreign and local French journalists and Cuban exiles, including dissident journalists, 23 cages were placed in the Trocadéro Human Rights Plaza in Paris, each containing a symbolic prisoner, masked and dressed in prison clothes.
Each cage bore the name of a jailed journalist, the media outlet they worked for, the sentence they were serving and the reason for their imprisonment.
Twenty of the 27 journalists arrested and convicted during the March 2003 crackdown on dissidents are still being held, including the Reporters Without Borders correspondent, Ricardo González Alfonso. Most have been accused of being “mercenaries in the pay of a foreign power” and have been given sentences ranging from 14 to 27 years.
7. “Let’s not forget them”
Many journalists pay with their lives for their desire to speak out. Reporters Without Borders has pledged to ensure they are not forgotten.
"Freedom murdered in Lebanon” - a rallying call
The families of journalists Samir Kassir, Gebran Tueni and May Chidiac, along with French and Lebanese celebrities, attended an evening presided over by TV presenter Christine Ockrent at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris on 1 February 2006 to pay tribute to the murdered Kassir and Tueni and to Chidiac, who was badly mutilated by a car-bomb explosion.
Tueni’s daughter Nayla, Kassir’s widow Gisèle Khoury, and Chidiac’s sister Micheline Chidiac Baaklini, as well as former French government ministers Michel Barnier and Bernard Kouchner, former Lebanese culture minister Ghassan Salamé, Lebanese writer Amin Maalouf and Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard, all spoke about the three energetic journalists and called for a French and international campaign to see that Kassir and Tueni’s deaths were not in vain. French-Lebanese pianist Abdel Rahman El Bacha played a recital in honour of the journalists.
Reporters Memorial in Bayeux, inaugurated on 7 October 2006
The French city of Bayeux, in Normandy, has built a memorial, with Reporters Without Borders, to all those journalists killed around the world since 1944 while doing their job.
The memorial, designed and built by French architect and landscape artist Samuel Craquelin, is the first of its kind in Europe. The first stones were inaugurated on 7 October 2006.
In May 2007, the memorial will get a pedestrian walkway lined with white stones bearing the names of 2,000 journalists who died because they wanted to keep us informed of what is happening in the world.
Tribute to Anna Politkovskaya
A gathering of about a thousand people paid tribute to the Russian journalist on 11 October 2006 in front of Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris, a few days after she was killed. It was organised by Reporters Without Borders, the France-Russia Journalists Association, Studies Without Borders and all the journalist’s friends in Paris. Reporters Without Borders renewed its call for an international commission of enquiry into her murder.
After a minute’s silence, Politkovskaya’s professionalism and courage was praised by her friends and colleagues in France.
8. Publicity campaigns
Reporters Without Borders publicity campaigns aim to raise general awareness of the need to take a stand in favour of freedom of expression, report on physical attacks on journalists and protest about countries that abuse the basic right of free expression to international organisations, the media and governments that have ties with them.
Reporters Without Borders conducted a dozen or so campaigns in 2006, helped by communication experts, in the written press, on radio and TV and through posters.
The annual worldwide press freedom figures
Each year, Reporters Without Borders announces how many journalists have been killed, arrested, physically attacked or threatened and how many media outlets have been censored around the world.
82 journalists were killed
32 media assistants were killed
at least 871 media workers were arrested,
1,472 physically attacked or threatened,
912 media outlets censored
and 56 journalists kidnapped In 2005
63 journalists were killed
5 media assistants were killed
at least 807 media workers were arrested,
1,308 physically attacked or threatened
and 1,006 media outlets censored
The Worldwide Press Freedom Index
This is issued every October and measures the amount of freedom journalists and media have in each country and the effort governments make to comply with press freedom and promote it.
Reporters Without Borders issues six posters every year for use by its members and the media.
Each one highlights a sensitive situation or a news event to do with press freedom, such as photos of imprisoned journalists, repression in Cuba, the toll of the war in Iraq, impunity in Africa, a tribute to Anna Politkovskaya, the predators of press freedom, and so on.
Each Monday for the past year, Reporters Without Borders has put out (with the help of the French press distributor Insert) a wall-poster newspaper, Qui-Vive!, targeting readers between the age of 15 and 24. It appears in 700 places in Paris and the French provinces and gives news about press freedom around the world.
This quarterly newsletter tells members of Reporters Without Borders about latest developments inside the organisation, what action has been taken and reports on future plans.
10. A new way of saying it
Médias magazine and blogmedias.com
The magazine Médias appeared in a new format in 2006 with more and better content covering the entire media.
Médias reports on what is happening inside journalism, through sections such as “behind the news,” “my life in the media,” a personal column by journalist Pierre Lescure and a major interview. The new layout has been designed by Nata Rampazzo.
The magazine’s website, www.leblogmedias.com, includes a daily news update, columns, satirical pages and a genuine exchange with readers. It has a valuable database, including back issues of the magazine.
Reporters Without Borders offers to host simple text and photo blogs and provide professional maintenance. Details at www.rsfblog.org.
Five languages - English, French, Spanish, German and Italian - are available. The service was launched during the 24 Hours Against Online Censorship event on 7-8 November 2006.
Four good reasons to sign up:
It’s a gesture in the battle against censorship.
You join a blogging community that defends these values.
Confidentiality of personal data is guaranteed.
High technical quality, very easy to use and no advertising on the blog.