Remarks by CPJ Honorary Co-Chairman Terry Anderson in accepting the 2006 Emmy
from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences
Thank you for honoring the Committee to Protect Journalists, and our colleagues at RSF and the IPI. In doing so, you honor the thousands of very brave men and women around the world who daily risk their lives—and too often lose them—to tell the truth.
CPJ began its work 25 years ago and continues it today, not because we believe journalists deserve more protection than anyone else, but because we believe that journalists are the first to be attacked by those who wish to oppress, to deny the basic human rights and human dignity of all. Journalists are on the front line, the first casualties in the constant fight to preserve freedom.
In the past 15 years, 580 journalists have been killed in the course of doing their jobs, CPJ reported just last week. Some died in crossfire or other combat situations. Covering war is dangerous. But more than 70 percent—over 400—were the victims of deliberate, targeted murder. Today, 85 percent of those murders are still unsolved. In only about 30 cases, out of more than 400, were the people who ordered the killings brought to justice. So who were the killers? In more than a quarter of these cases, CPJ found, government and military officials are suspected of plotting, ordering, or carrying out the slayings. You see, just as journalists and others know they can’t have a free country without a free press, would-be dictators and thugs know they can’t oppress their people in the face of one.
That’s why CPJ was born, and why it continues to grow. Journalists are easy targets. They need and deserve our help. And yours. Thankfully, you have given it repeatedly, and generously. We could not do our work without your financial support and moral support. We take no government money and never will. We are independent because of your grants and your foundations. We have a staff of 25, a Washington representative, a network of correspondents worldwide because of your help. We are effective because of your support.
And we are effective. It might surprise you, but when we send out press releases—which many of you carry—when we issue open letters to heads of state, when we send our missions—more than a dozen a year—out to Africa and Asia and Europe, it works. Journalists are freed from jail or removed from danger. Repressive laws are repealed. Abuses and attacks are brought to the light of day. Not always, of course, but often enough. I’ve taken part in some of those missions, helped to free some journalists. I know what it’s like to sit in a dark cell and wonder if anyone cares. I know the joy of finding out that someone does. The joy of being free again. Believe me, the work we do along with our colleagues here tonight and other human rights groups—the work you support—is effective. It does defend freedom, as surely as a soldier does.
We at CPJ thank you for your support, and your recognition. We dedicate this award to the 106 journalists and media workers killed in Iraq since that war began in March 2003. It is the most dangerous war in the CPJ’s history. We mourn their loss and honor their sacrifice.