June 20th is World Refugee Day and the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists has just completed a study on the number of journalists who have joined the ranks of the global refugee community. CPJ reports at least 82 journalists fled their native countries under threat or harassment in the last 12 months, with more than half coming from Iraq and Somalia. CPJ says the rate of journalists going into exile—about seven per month—is double the average that recorded since it began compiling such data in 2001.
CPJ reports 51 journalists fled after being assaulted or threatened with violence or death. It says police surveillance, repeated interrogations, and sporadic detentions prompted another 19 journalists to flee while the threat of imprisonment led 12 more to seek exile.
Joel Simon, CPJ executive director, says: “CPJ is concerned when threats, imprisonment, and harassment force any journalist from his or her home, but when the media are driven out en masse as in Iraq and Somalia, a vital piece of those societies is being lost.”
The CPJ survey documents the cases of 22 Iraqi journalists and 21 Somali journalists who have fled their homes. At least 14 journalists fled Chad, although most have since returned. In the last year, at least four journalist s left Eritrea and three left Ethiopia.
Meanwhile, VOA’s correspondent in Moscow, Peter Fedynsky, reports controversy surrounds the investigations of two journalists killed in Russia and Kyrgyzstan. Please take a look at his report with the latest on the 2006 murder of Anna Politkovskaya and the 2007 killing of Alisher Saipov, a stringer for VOA's Uzbek Service.