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A call to support journalists in exile on World Refugee Day

A call to support journalists in exile on World Refugee Day

On World Refugee Day, Rory Peck Trust is releasing a joint statement alongside our partners advocating for the support of exiled journalists worldwide.

Since 2011, the Rory Peck Trust, the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders have worked together to jointly support and advocate on behalf of refugee journalists worldwide, a large number of whom are freelancers. Every year, our organizations support dozens of journalists forced to flee their homes for fear of violent retaliation or imprisonment for their work.
According to CPJ research, the top five countries journalists fled from over the last five years are Iran, Somalia, Syria, Ethiopia, and Eritrea. They most often went to Kenya, Turkey and Uganda. France and the United States have accepted the highest numbers of refugee journalists during that same time period, CPJ research shows.
Though their individual plights are akin to those of other refugees, CPJ, the Rory Peck Trust and RSF have found that journalists’ high profiles make them more vulnerable to continued persecution in exile. We believe that the forced exile of journalists and media workers is a form of aggression against our universal rights to freedom of expression and information. With this in mind, CPJ, the Rory Peck Trust and RSF make the following recommendations:
To the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR):

  • Continue to actively engage with civil society in the protection of refugee journalists, and continue to work directly with freedom of expression and press freedom organizations to make sure that cases of refugee journalists are identified more quickly and that the specific challenges they face are addressed.
  •  Ensure that refugee journalists receive better access to appropriate individual protection, to urban refugee programs, the resettlement process and the UN’s mechanism for temporary evacuation to a safe third country.
  • Improve data collection by the UNHCR and its field offices on refugee journalists, and provide detailed information on to all UN bodies as part of inter-agency cooperation around the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.
To the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Organization (UNESCO):

  • As the UN agency with a mandate for freedom of expression, UNESCO must ensure that UN member states provide refugee journalists with appropriate protection.
  • Make sure the issue of refugee journalists is included in the implementation of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.
To countries of first refuge, notably Kenya, Turkey and Uganda:

  • Provide protection to refugee journalists seeking refuge in their territory from harassment and violence at the hands of security personnel form their home country who may be operating inside the country of refuge.
  • Enable refugee journalists to establish themselves outside of refugee camps. Often based near borders, refugee camps are easily accessible to agents of the governments journalists are fleeing, and are therefore extremely dangerous to journalists with high profile in their home countries and communities.
  • Fully and transparently investigate attacks against refugee journalists living in their territory, including those allegedly committed by local authorities.
  • Allow refuge journalists seeking to continue working in exile the possibility of obtaining work permits that will enable them to be self-sufficient, while promoting freedom of expression in their country and region.
To resettlement and asylum countries, notably the United States and European Union state members:

  • Increase UN resettlement quotas and ensure faster processing of refugee journalists’ cases.
  • Facilitate the filing of humanitarian visa applications by journalists forced into exile before their consular sections.
  • Enable refugee journalists to file asylum claims at their embassies in countries of first refuge, and guarantee the quick delivery of entry permits in case of positive response.
To the European Commission:

  • Promote the establishment of an asylum-claim filing procedure in EU state members local embassies.
  • Guarantee the full implementation of the EU Guidelines on freedom of expression and the EU Guidelines on human rights defenders by EU state members.

Image: Exiled Journalists in KANERE editorial meeting, Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya. Credit: Kakuma News Reflector (KANERE)

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