We couldn't have done this without you: a note from CPJ's advocacy director

December 26, 2019 9:00 AM ET

The Torch is a weekly newsletter from the Committee to Protect Journalists that brings you the latest press freedom and journalist safety news from around the world. Subscribe here.

Dear friend of CPJ,

As the year draws to a close, we want to thank you for your support and share some of the press freedom successes of the past year.

Often, positive developments are public in nature; a conviction is secured for a journalist’s murder, a draconian piece of legislation is struck down, a jailed journalist is freed. But sometimes the important victories happen quietly and behind the scenes. Over the past year CPJ’s Emergencies helped to evacuate over 60 local journalists who were trapped in Syria. An unprecedented project for CPJ, we worked quietly alongside press freedom partners, sympathetic governments, and the U.N. to secure safe passage and asylum for the journalists and their families. After nearly a year of work, they have all crossed the border to safety.

But challenges persist. For the fourth year in a row, CPJ documented at least 250 journalists behind bars in its annual prison census. Threats to journalists from non-state actors like organized crime syndicates persist, and governments that should be champions of the press frequently failed to stand up for journalists and their safety. But this year was also a year of hope and opportunity, as CPJ helped secure the early releases of at least 81 journalists from prison, met with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, and saw convictions in the murders of 38 journalists.

Other highlights included:

Responding to those at risk

  • We turned the spotlight onto the specific threats faced by photographers. In partnership with United Photo Industries and St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn, we mounted “Journalists Under Fire,” an exhibit highlighting photojournalist safety alongside the works of photographers killed or under threat because of their work. We spoke about safety at World Press Photo in Amsterdam, and co-sponsored their exhibit in Washington honoring fallen photographer Mohamed Ben Khalifa.
  • We continued our gender-related work, publishing a collection of safety resources for female journalists, including an analysis of CPJ survey data and specialized safety advice.
  • We provided emergency support to more than 190 journalists this year.

Refusing to forget

  • Working alongside FF Creative Community and News Corp, we published The Last Column, a book featuring the final works of 24 journalists killed in the line of duty.
  • After visiting Azimjon Askarov, a journalist serving a life sentence in Kyrgyzstan, we created printed newspapers and a digital platform where people could submit messages of solidarity, which CPJ will deliver to him in prison.
  • Our advocacy found strength in numbers. We were a founding partner of the One Free Press Coalition, where media outlets together train their spotlight on 10 journalists under threat every month, and inaugural partners of The Washington Post Press Freedom Partnership, which highlights organizations working to promote press freedom and raise awareness of journalists’ rights worldwide.
  • In Tanzania, we supported local media by demanding that authorities reveal #WhereIsAzory? CPJ has campaigned for information on the local journalist’s whereabouts and wellbeing since his disappearance more than two years ago.
  • Our #FreeThePress featured emblematic cases of jailed journalists on our @CensoredPress Instagram. While too many remain imprisoned, notable releases this year included Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, previously jailed in Myanmar, and International Press Freedom Awardees Lucía Pineda Ubau and Miguel Mora of Nicaragua. The OneFreePress coalition featured all four.

Driving a global agenda

There is always more to be done, and CPJ will continue to fight for the rights of journalists and to advocate for press freedom worldwide in 2020.

Thank you for your ongoing support.

Sincerely,

Courtney Radsch

CPJ Advocacy Director

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