World Press Freedom Day: The Journalist Support Committee Condemns the Ongoing Violence against Journalists
On World Press Freedom Day 2019 the Journalist Support Committee would like to take the opportunity to call on Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Sudan to uphold international standards of press freedom.
These states continue to flout international standards of press freedom by carrying out reprisals against journalists, so long as arbitrary detentions and killings of journalists are conducted with impunity, the situation for press freedom will continue to deteriorate. The Journalist Support Committee is, therefore, calling for accountability and end to impunity in regard to the persecution of journalists in these states.
Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights must be respected and freedom of the press must also be secured as a constitutional right at the national level in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE, Egypt and Sudan. These states continue to rank among the worst for press freedom in the World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) last week with Saudi Arabia (172), Bahrain (167), UAE (133), Egypt (163) and Sudan (175).
The theme of this year’s UNESCO World Press Freedom Day is Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation. The erasure of press freedom and independent journalism in these states is also an attack on democracy itself. For example, in Bahrain elections were held on November 2018, but these were held behind closed doors with foreign reporters being denied accreditation by the Bahraini authorities to cover the elections.
According to Reporters Without Borders, there are currently 33 journalists jailed in Egypt where a recent referendum has extended President Sisi’s rule until 2024 with an option for him to extend his presidency for an additional term until 2030.
In Sudan, scores of journalists have been arrested while covering the protests in opposition to Omar Al-Bashir’s leadership and the current Transitional Military Council. Sudanese citizen journalists have played a vital role in documenting events as they have unfolded in Sudan to inform domestic and international audiences.
The Journalist Support Committee urges Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to sign and ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Bahrain, Egypt and Sudan have already ratified the ICCPR so should, therefore, adhere to Article 19 of the treaty and ensure that freedom of expression is protected.
Journalist Support Committee – Switzerland
3 May 2019