Journalists Fleeing Foreign Countries in Record Numbers

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By: Joe Strupp

Journalists were forced into exile at record levels during the last 12 months, with at least 82 news people leaving their native countries “under threat or harassment,” according to a survey by the Committee to Protect Journalists.

The study, released Wednesday, revealed that more than half of those journalists fled Iraq and Somalia.

“The rate of journalists going into exile?about seven per month?is double the average that CPJ has recorded since it began compiling such data in 2001,” the survey said. “The majority fled after being assaulted, threatened with violence, or threatened with death.”

The report adds that: “The exodus of reporters from Iraq and Somalia has thinned the reporting ranks in two important conflict zones. Kidnappings and death threats drove out at least 22 Iraqi journalists in the last 12 months, CPJ found.” The report also revealed that 21 Somali journalists went into exile.

Of the 82 journalists forced to flee, only 12 have returned to their original homes, the study revealed. It focused on journalists who were forced to flee because of their work and who remained in exile for at least three months.

?CPJ is concerned when threats, imprisonment and harassment force any journalist from his or her home, but when the media are driven out en masse as in Iraq and Somalia, a vital piece of those societies is being lost,? Joel Simon, CPJ?s executive director, said in the report.

“In the majority of cases, journalists literally ran for their lives. CPJ found that 51 journalists worldwide fled their homes after being assaulted, threatened with violence, or threatened with death,” the study added. “Severe harassment?such as police surveillance, repeated interrogations, and sporadic detentions?drove another 19 journalists to flee worldwide. The threat of imprisonment prompted 12 to seek exile.”

CPJ is a New York?based, independent, nonprofit organization. More information from the report is available at:
http://www.cpj.org/Briefings/2008/exiles_08.html.

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