RPT calls for next UK Government to save journalists forced to flee for their lives

Today, the Rory Peck Trust joins four other media organisations in writing to the leaders of Britain’s main political parties to urge whoever wins next month’s general election establish the UK as a safe haven for journalists forced to flee their home countries.

The Rory Peck Trust, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the International News Safety Institute, Index on Censorship and Reporters Without Borders want the next UK Government to implement the recommendation by some of the world’s most distinguished lawyers – the result of a global conference convened by the UK in London five years ago.

The ’High Level Panel of Legal Experts’ said introducing an emergency visa for journalists forced to flee their home countries because of threats to their safety would have an “enormous impact in strengthening media freedom”.

As a result, Canada and Germany introduced an emergency scheme for journalists. So too did smaller countries like Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and the Czech Republic. But despite a similar recommendation by the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, Britain has failed to do so.

 

The UK has a duty to act. Until it does so, any claim by the UK to global leadership will ring hollow.

Jon Williams, Executive Director, Rory Peck Trust

As the parties publish their election manifestos, the media freedom groups warn the leaders of the Conservative Party, Labour, the Liberal Democracts and the SNP that the window for journalists to escape safely is often just a matter of hours. And they say their experience shows that when journalists, many of them freelance, can travel quickly to safe, supportive environments, they are far more likely to continue working and eventually return home.

In the five years since the UK signed the Global Pledge on Media Freedom in London, journalists have been forced out of Afghanistan, Russia, Myanmar and Sudan while the CPJ says the war between Israel and Hamas has killed 108 media workers in the deadliest ever period for journalism. The media freedom organisations say as a Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council, Britain should take a lead.

Read the full letter sent to the UK Government here.