Monday, 20 June 2011

CPJ: Iran and Cuba force journalists into exile

Nearly 70 journalists were forced into exile over the past 12 months, with more than half coming from Iran and Cuba, a new survey by the Committee to Protect Journalists has found.

CPJ says Iran has waged a two-year-long crackdown on the independent press, and Cuba has freed journalists from prison only to force them to leave their homeland. Each country sent 18 journalists into exile.

Imprisonment, or the threat being jailed, was the leading cause of journalists leaving their home countries during the period examined by CPJ—June 1, 2010, to May 31, 2011—accounting for 82 percent of cases.

Another 15 percent fled following physical attacks or threats of violence. Prolonged harassment such as frequent interrogations or surveillance drove 3 percent of journalists in the survey to leave their countries. At least 649 journalists facing violence, imprisonment, and harassment have gone into exile worldwide since 2001, when CPJ launched its journalist assistance program and began keeping detailed exile records. The large majority, about 91 percent, have not been able to return home.

Five countries—Ethiopia, Iran, Somalia, Iraq and Zimbabwe—account for nearly half the total number of journalists driven out of their countries over the past decade.

CPJ's survey is based solely on cases it has documented, from which it derives global trends. Other groups using different criteria cite higher numbers of journalists in exile.

For hundreds of journalists, legal hurdles, language differences, and the challenges of finding work in a new country can be professionally devastating, says the CPJ. It's long-term research shows that only about 22 percent of journalists who have remained in exile are engaged in media-related work today; a total of 461 journalists have had to look for work outside their profession.

  • CPJ is releasing its annual survey of journalists in exile to mark World Refugee Day.

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