Home | News    Friday 21 June 2013

CPJ: East Africa records high exodus rates of journalists

June 20, 2013 (ADDIS ABABA) - As the globe marks World Refugee Day on Thursday, an international press freedom group, said that the number of journalists from East African countries fleeing into exile remains on the rise.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalist’s (CPJ) report, a total of 55 journalists from 21 “repressive” countries, including from five East African countries, were forced into exile.

Journalists in the East Africa nations of Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Sudan fled in higher numbers over the past 12 months, than previous years, CPJ’s Journalists in Exile 2013 report says.

With the help of CPJ, 18 media workers fled their homes into exile making the East African region responsible for the highest exile rates of Journalists for the sixth consecutive year.

The latest report, CPJ said, counts only to journalists who fled due to work-related persecution, who remained in exile for at least three months, and whose current whereabouts and activities are confidential to CPJ.

The group further said the journalists were forced into exile to escape different forms of intimidation, violence, imprisonment, and death threats during the past year.

The annual survey listed Iran and Somalia, followed by Ethiopia, Syria, Eritrea, Mexico, Sri Lanka and Sudan as the nations that drive out the most journalists.

"Journalists all over the world are being forced from their homes to escape persecution, imprisonment and sometimes even death," said Maria Salazar Ferro, CPJ Journalist Assistance Program coordinator.

"When journalists flee, their absence often weakens the besieged media community already struggling to provide insightful reporting about sensitive issues."

Most of the journalists from Eritrea and Ethiopia fled in fear of imprisonment, according to the report.

Eritrea and Ethiopia, who respectively are Africa’s leading jailers of journalists, have long records of press repression.

Of the 30 journalists who CPJ said assisted in exile from Eritrea since 2008, many of them alleged they have been unlawfully detained in the country’s prison facilities without charge or trial.

The survey indicated that exiled journalists live in very difficult conditions suffering anxiety about their family members back home and getting trapped in a legal limbo being unable to secure job.

"Forced exile can wreck journalists’ lives, as well as the lives of their families," Salazar Ferro said.

Ferro said only about one-fifth of exiled journalists are able to resume working in the same field.

(ST)