Mexico, Venezuela, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, North Korea, China, Russia, Syria, Bangladesh and Hungary are countries with a sad reputation for violations of freedom of the press, and unfortunately the list does not stop there. We could add Malta, and even Northern Ireland after the recent murder of Lyra McKee for which the New Irish Republican Army admitted responsibility. And there’s the case of Myanmar where the former symbol of resistance to the military junta and Nobel Peace Prize laureate (an award, with hindsight, now regretted) Aung San Suu Kyi failed to support the two Reuters journalists whose seven year sentence was upheld on appeal despite evidence that the arrest of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who were investigating a massacre of Rohingya civilians, was set up by the police.*
Any number of other examples can be found of journalists killed, injured or imprisoned, and every year the figures are shocking. All their names deserve to be cited. In France too we can see reporters targeted, attacked by demonstrators and police without any major public outcry. Causes and professional ethics must be defended; journalists’ sources must be protected. One day the European Union, or even the United Nations will have to reach agreement on the definition of a journalist. Conditions for issuing press cards change from country to country, and there should be a standardized approach so that all journalists have the same rights, which means, of course, that they have the same duties. But this is not the way things are going at the moment. Certain politicians, even in leading democracies, will readily criticize journalists for doing their job, particularly when reports might leave them in an awkward situation. The general public is increasingly skeptical and wary of the media. Everything needs to be reviewed; questions need to be asked for trust to be restored. The right to report on news stories and conduct investigations freely is a basic pillar of democracy. That should go without saying, yet it needs to be stated loud and clear, again and again. In Perpignan, we shall continue to present stories from around the world. We believe in journalism, and our commitment is greater than ever.
Paris, April 29, 2019
- May 7. We are greatly relieved to hear of the release of the two journalists as part of a mass presidential amnesty.