Warsaw Human Dimension Conference 2023
Wednesday, October 4, 2023
Written statement by Justice for Journalists Foundation (JFJ)
This statement addresses the issue of independent media outlets, and workers forced into exile by non-democratic regimes, who are now facing numerous challenges constraining their truthful reporting and thus the public’s right to know.
Justice for Journalists Foundation (JFJ) is a London-based charity whose mission is to fight impunity for attacks against media. We monitor attacks against media outlets and workers, conduct media security trainings and fund investigations worldwide into violence and abuse against professional and citizen journalists.
The recent expert survey by the JFJ had yielded over 100 responses from Russian and Belarusian media workers who were forced to relocate to safer countries. Among the top three reasons for fleeing, our respondents named risks of attacks under legal pretexts; physical risks to life and liberty; and harassment, threats and intimidation. Vast majority of exiled journalists have now settled in the EU-member states, with a minority residing in Armenia, Georgia, Turkey and Israel.
While 60% of respondents have secured some degree of assistance from the governmental and non-governmental organisations after their relocation, 40% received none. Among the main needs quoted by the journalists are financial support; legal and visa help; assistance with professional education and access to the local media communities; and psychological support. Alarmingly, almost half of those surveyed have been facing threats even in the relative safety of their new home countries: 23% faced indirect threats: calls, messages, oral warnings;14% – direct threats to life, wellbeing and liberty, and 10% – surveillance, hacking and other cyber-attacks.
*JFJ calls on international organisations to work with governments of the member-states to adjust their legal frameworks to streamline immigration and settlement procedures for exiled media.
*We call on the authorities of the member-states to continuously support the exiled independent media outlets and workers in their effective countering of the disinformation and propaganda sponsored by the oppressive regimes they fled.
*JFJ also calls on the security services and police of the member states to protect the exiled media from persistent harassment by the agents of the totalitarian regimes, that include doxxing, stalking, intimidation, sophisticated surveillance, and even physical violence.