Attack on the Fourth Estate: The Killing and Imprisonment of Journalists
The murder of Bulgarian journalist Viktoria Marinova, reporting on alleged corruption in her country, is the third journalist killed in the EU this year. Slovak journalist Ján Kuciak and Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia both faced similar fates by those who wanted to silence the truth.
In the same week as the murder of Viktoria, Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi vanished after visiting his country’s consulate in Istanbul and has since been confirmed dead.
Many more journalists have lost their lives in 2018, among them 10 Afghan reporters in April.
Targeting reporters is becoming more deliberate, the investigations slow and perpetrators are rarely brought to justice. What is more is that killings are increasingly taking place with impunity.
Journalists are often the last bastion in the face of corruption and the erosion of democracy. But as political powers are depicting the media as the ‘enemy of the people’ is enough being done to protect press freedoms and the people speaking out for the truth?
Vaughan Smith is co-founder of the Frontline Freelance Register and Founder of the Frontline Club Charitable Trust.
Rebecca Vincent is the UK Bureau Director for Reporters Without Borders, known internationally as Reporters sans frontières (RSF), which works to promote and defend press freedom around the world. She is a human rights activist, writer, and former US diplomat. She has worked with a wide range of human rights and freedom of expression NGOs, and has published widely on human rights issues. Rebecca has campaigned consistently for justice for Daphne Caruana Galizia, and on the broader issue of safety of journalists.
Peter Greste is an Australian Latvian journalist who was sentenced to seven years in jail for collaborating with the banned Muslim brotherhood in June 2014. He was freed after spending 400 days in an Egyptian prison. His two Al Jazeera colleagues, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, were sentenced to seven and 10 years respectively. Greste was set free by order of Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi under a new law allowing foreign prisoners to be deported. Fahmy and Mohamed were also later freed. Greste’s arrest, trial and judgment is the most recent chapter in the foreign correspondent’s career spanning more than 25 years. He has worked as a freelancer for Reuters TV, CNN, WTN and the BBC.
Safa Al Ahmad is journalist and filmmaker who has directed documentaries for PBS and the BBC focusing on uprisings in the Middle East. Her film “Yemen Under Siege” won two Emmy Awards in 2017. She is the winner of the 2015 Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Award for Journalism, the El Mundo award for journalism for her body of work in 2015, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) in 2015 and the Association of International Broadcasting (AIB) Best International Investigation for her film ‘Saudi’s Secret Uprising’ in 2014. Her writing on the Arab uprisings was published in an anthology ‘Writing Revolutions’ published by Penguin and won an English Pen award.
Laurent Richard is an award-winning investigative journalist, filmmaker, 2017 Knight-Wallace fellow and the founder of Forbidden Stories. He is co-founder of the highly reputed inquiry magazine Cash Investigation broadcast on French public television. He oversaw for Premières Lignes Television and France 2 the “LuxLeaks” investigation on tax evasion in Luxembourg and has investigated multiple corporate sectors such as “big tobacco”, pharmaceutical companies and various financial institutions. He is is the co-author of the book Reporting Is Not a Crime. Stand Together Against Censorship, (Informer n’est pas un délit, ensemble contre les nouvelles censures), a collective work of 15 journalists denouncing pressures against the press published in 2016. Laurent has very recently won the Prix Europa, European Journalist of the Year prize.