Iran, Syria, and Somalia top countries that journalists flee

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NEW YORK – Over the past five years, the Committee to Protect Journalists has supported 404 journalists who have been forced to flee their home countries because of their work, according to a new CPJ report on exiled journalists. Journalists cite the threats of violence and imprisonment as the top reasons why they flee. 

The annual survey of exiled journalists assisted by CPJ spotlights the plight of journalists who have been forced to flee some of the world’s most repressive nations. The top countries that journalists fled in the past five years were Iran, Syria, Somalia, Ethiopia, and Eritrea. CPJ is releasing the report, including a narrative timeline of eight journalists’ journeys, to mark World Refugee Day on June 20.

“Forcing journalists into exile with violence and intimidation is a very effective method of restricting freedom of expression,” said María Salazar-Ferro, the Coordinator of CPJ’s Journalist Assistance Program. “Journalists should not have to flee their homes, and abandon their careers and families, because they face imminent retaliation for critical reporting.”

Countries that force the highest number of journalists into exile rank poorly on CPJ’s other press freedom indicators. Iran is consistently one of the world’s leading jailers of journalists; Syria was the most dangerous country in the world for journalists for the past two years; Somalia is the most murderous country for journalists in sub-Saharan Africa.

Journalists do not necessarily find an easier life in exile, as they are often stigmatized and can face the same threats they fled in the first place. Even when journalists are able to build a new life, they pay a psychological toll. Only about one-fifth of exiled journalists are able to resume work in their field, CPJ found. This year’s report includes recommendations to U.N. agencies and destination countries on how to improve the plight of exiled journalists.

To help journalists reach safe destinations, regain stability, and earn a living, CPJ’s Journalist Assistance Program works with other organizations to optimize advocacy and logistical and financial support.

SOURCE: Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)

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