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Increasing number of journalists forced into exile

Journalists are pushed into exile in record numbers, US-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) says. “In a striking development, exiled or soon-to-be exiled journalists now make up more than half of the people CPJ assists. Between January and June, the organisation provided financial support to 158 journalists; 101, or about 64% of these people had fled their home countries or were in the process of fleeing.”

“These figures demonstrate the dire needs of journalists in exile, and the bitter reality that exile is not the end of a journalist’s problems but in many cases just the beginning.” 

“Unless journalists have dual citizenship, pre existing visas, or the ability to acquire an emergency visa, they may have to remain in a transit country while seeking permanent resettlement to a third country, a process that can take months or years. Many transit countries also have poor press freedom records.”

The organisation’s Emergencies Director, Lucy Westcott, reports that since the creation of the Journalist Assistance Program in 2001, the single most common request for support is emergency relocation. 

CPJ has long advocated for specific steps that governments can take to provide safe refuge through emergency visas and other measures to protect journalists fleeing as a consequence of their work. 

“There is a growing consensus among the international community that the global wave of aggression forcing journalists to flee must be met with a targeted and dedicated response”, Westcott writes in a report. 

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While exile is a global issue, three countries — Russia, Iran, and Afghanistan — stand out as places from which journalists flee only to face further insecurity, she says.

CPJ’s recommendations to governments include creating special emergency visas and to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to grant refugee status to journalists at risk, regardless of the country where they apply.

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