Legal battles silence journalists, killing them is brutal censorship

Organisations partner to support journalists with legal defence fees, while number of journalists murdered nearly doubles in 2018.


The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and First Look Media's Press Freedom Defense Fund have announced partnering on a fundraising campaign to provide legal support for journalists facing extensive legal battles meant to suppress critical journalism.

Legal tactics

The International Center for Journalists and Reporters Without Borders have also pledged their support, with $100,000 pledged in campaign to raise a total of $500,000 to cover legal fees for news organizations unfairly targeted by governments or powerful figures because they have tried to bring to light information that is in the public interest. ‘Journalism is under assault globally and we must do everything we can to ensure the free flow of information,’ said Jim Risen, director of the Press Freedom Defense Fund. ‘Legal battles are one of several tactics used to silence journalists.’ The first recipients of funds will be Philippine-based news organization Rappler and its founder and editor Maria Ressa. Joel Simon, CPJ's executive director, said ‘we intend to stand with Maria Ressa and Rappler and to support them in their efforts to defend themselves against the prosecution that we view as unjust.’

‘Brutal censorship’

At least 53 journalists were killed on the job this year, 34 of whom targeted for murder in reprisal for their work, the CPJ found in its annual analysis, making 2018 the deadliest year in the past three years. Afghanistan was the deadliest country, followed by Syria and India. The year included the high-profile murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, killed by Saudi agents, Slovakian investigative journalist Jan Kuciak shot to death alongside his fiancé, an Afghanistan suicide bomber attack on a group of reporters, killing nine in a single explosion in April, and, the shooting at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, when a gunman shot dead four journalists. ‘Murder is a form of brutal censorship that is disrupting the flow of information,’ Me Simon said, adding ‘people around the world are increasingly recognizing what's at stake. Political leaders must stand up, speak out, and deliver justice on behalf of the journalists who gave their lives to bring us the news.’

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