HRC42: States must protect safety of journalists


ARTICLE 19 delivered the following oral statement on the safety of journalists at the 42nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council during the Item 3 General Debate.

This Council has repeatedly asserted that journalism is not a crime, yet States around the world continue to misuse the law to obstruct journalists’ essential work, without consequence.

In Turkey, we welcome the release last week of six Cumhuriyet journalists and staff, after over five months’ imprisonment on groundless terrorism convictions and lengthy periods in pre-trial detention. They should never have been detained.

Despite their release, we are deeply concerned about a new set of even more serious charges filed against their colleague, Ahmet Şık. Turkey remains the world’s most prolific jailor of journalists. At least 132 are currently in detention, with hundreds more facing trials in the midst of a rule of law crisis that makes the possibility of fair trials remote. States at this Council who champion media freedom must speak out, and take urgent action.

In Cuba, state attacks against journalists are on the rise, and demand this Council’s urgent attention. We condemn the arbitrary detention last week of journalist Roberto Quiñones for his public interest reporting on a religious freedom case. He will spend a year behind bars, following his 7 August conviction on charges of “resistance and disobedience”. His trial was marred by procedural irregularities, including the failure to schedule an appeal hearing. We call for his immediate and unconditional release.

Quiñones was first arrested on 22 April while covering the Rigal-Exposito trial, beaten by members of the National Revolutionary Police, and held for five days. The agents responsible have not been investigated or held to account. This is the latest in a series of escalating attacks designed to deter Quiñones from continuing his independent journalistic work, and intimidate other journalists into self-censorship.

In Tanzania,in the midst of an ongoing assault on press freedom, investigative journalist Erick Kabendera was arbitrarily detained on 29 July. The trumped up charges against him have repeatedly changed. He now stands accused of links to organised crime and money laundering – unbailable offences. We call for his immediate and unconditional release, and an end to the harassment of his family members.