Safety for journalists
Free Press Unlimited has a pretty complete safety programme for journalists: we offer preventive safety raining, emergency help through Reporters Respond and recently, thanks to support from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, also legal assistance.
We also support partner projects for the safety of journalists, such as the legal help desk of the Nepalese Freedom Forum. Moreover, we actively advocate (internationally) for the protection of journalists and that those who forcibly silence them be brought to justice. If journalists cannot do their work safely, press freedom is in danger, and with it, the right to reliable, relevant and independent information.
In 2018, we gave dozens of safety training to journalists who work in conflict areas or are exposed to online risks. They not only learn to physically protect themselves in the best way as possible, but also how to deal with the digital and psychological consequences of working under constant pressure. Through Reporters Respond we helped 73 journalists in 40 countries whose equipment was destroyed or who themselves had been seriously threatened or mistreated. Like the Nigerian publisher and chief editor, Jones Abiri, who had been detained and tortured for two years without any indictment. A lawyer, paid from our emergency fund, helped him get free. His wife and children were also able to visit him in prison, thanks to the contribution to their travel expenses from Reporters Respond.
Since November 2018, we have been able to provide legal help to journalists like Abiri out of our brand new Legal Defense Fund. This is financed out of the € 1.45 million contribution made available by the Dutch government for the protection of journalists worldwide. That legal contribution is unequivocally necessary. Journalists are increasingly being silenced with random charges; for example, Daphne Caruana Galizia had no less than 47 ongoing cases against her at the time she was killed with a car bomb. And her family still has more than twenty cases hanging over them. How can an individual journalist or next of kin pay the steep (legal) costs of that? The Legal Defense Fund will fill that gap with support for Dutch and foreign journalists and media organisations abroad.