CPJ Impact

December 2009

News from the Committee to Protect Journalists

Press freedom by the numbers in 2009
At the end of each year at CPJ, we publish our two most important lists: our prison census and our killed list. These are the two tallies that tell us year-to-year how well press freedom is faring across the world. These are numbers we hope will go down each year, but once again, both numbers are up: 136 journalists are in jail; 68 have been killed this year-a new record.

CPJ’s census of imprisoned journalists was up from 2008’s total of 125, mostly due to the sweeping crackdown on journalists in Iran after the June election. This year’s report also showed the continuation of an alarming trend: a rise in the number of freelance journalists being imprisoned. At least 60 are behind bars worldwide, nearly double the number from just three years ago. Without the backing of a large institution, freelancers are vulnerable and need CPJ’s support more than ever. Also, journalists working online are increasingly vulnerable. This year, at least 68 bloggers and online journalists are in prison.

Without CPJ’s advocacy, those numbers might have been higher. This year, we helped more than 45 imprisoned journalists get released from jail. Our Journalist Assistance program has helped 60 threatened journalists seek refuge or get medical care after being attacked.

The 68 journalists who have died are a record number since CPJ first began keeping track in 1992-fueled by the election-related massacre of 29 journalists in the Philippines who were part of a candidate’s convoy that was ambushed and gunned down. Murder is the leading cause of work-related deaths; at least 50 journalists were targeted and slain in retaliation for their work, representing about three-quarters of the deaths in 2009. Impunity in the cases of murdered journalists also continues to be a serious concern, with 96 percent of such cases in which not one person has been brought to justice-in 48 of the 50 cases-this year.

CPJ heads to Philippines in wake of massacre
In the aftermath of the attack in Maguindanao province in the Philippines that left approximately 30 journalists dead, CPJ Asia consultant Shawn Crispin traveled to the country as part of a fact-finding investigation. The group, led by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines and the International Federation of Journalists, traveled to Mindanao’s General Santos City to meet with local journalists, the relatives of victims, and local prosecutors responsible. It was an emotional trip and Crispin recounts his meetings with families, as well as his participation in a protest calling for an end to impunity in the cases of slain journalists, in a post on the CPJ Blog.

“Our meeting with the slain journalists’ family members put faces to the massacre’s death toll,” Crispin wrote. “Many spouses feared for their children’s future and that the politically powerful suspects would evade justice-as has happened with so many previous media killings in Mindanao. Others expressed frustration about their inability to secure the death certificates they required to file murder charges on behalf of their killed loved ones.”

The Philippines, where 60 journalists have been killed with complete impunity since 1992, is a focal point of CPJ’s Global Campaign Against Impunity, which is made possible by the Knight Foundation.

CPJ by the numbers: Looking forward to press freedom in 2010
All of you who were able to join us at our International Press Freedom Awards on November 24 will never forget hearing from some of the bravest journalists in the world-our 2009 awardees Naziha Réjiba, Mustafa Haji Abdinur, and 2001 imprisoned awardee Jiang Weiping, who was able to finally receive his award eight years after CPJ honored him. We also heard an impassioned plea to help imprisoned journalists from Newsweek correspondent Maziar Bahari, who was held in Iran for nearly five months. Nothing gives us greater joy than greeting a recently released journalist whom we’ve helped. Next year we hope to see other freed journalists join us in New York, like this year’s imprisoned awardees Eynulla Fatullayev and J.S. Tissainayagam. We would like to thank all of our supporters and dinner chair Robert Thomson, managing editor of The Wall Street Journal, for a successful event that met CPJ’s fundraising goal for 2009.

And as we close out the year…
Please consider making a gift online to help CPJ continue to be a leader in the fight for press freedom. If you are a new supporter or increase your contribution, your gift will go twice as far with CPJ Chairman Paul Steiger’s $25,000 Individual Challenge Match. Any amount will help in these challenging times. Thank you.