This statement was originally published on CJFE’s Twitter account on 10 December 2020.
In 2019, more than 50 journalists were killed worldwide. Dozens of others were imprisoned. Many others disappeared without a trace. Over the past 10 years, a journalist or media worker has been killed every four days.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, it’s estimated a third of journalists who are murdered for what they do were threatened first. Countless are forced to leave their countries, and many of them end up looking to Canadian-based organizations for financial and immigration advice and assistance.
Canada is a global champion of freedom of expression and media freedom. Since 1981, CJFE has shared this vision and boldly championed the rights of journalists at home and abroad.
Therefore, we the undersigned are asking that the Canadian government adopt a fast-track program that would allow for the temporary relocation, as well as resettlement of “Journalists at Risk”, including those who cannot cross their own borders to apply for UNHCR status in a third country.
We envision a program that would allow for the resettlement of at least 100 high-risk journalists annually from around the world. We also envision a role for Canadian and other media organizations and corporations to help support such refugees to integrate into Canada through re-training, mentorships and job opportunities and would help with this process.
Over a year ago, Canada committed to introducing a dedicated refugee system for human rights advocates with a target of helping resettle as many as 250 people a year. While journalists, among many others are covered under this broad definition, there has been no meaningful consultation with journalism advocacy groups and this program has yet to be implemented. We see the additional commitment to “100 Journalists at Risk” as an extension of this initiative. And we urge action be taken immediately.
To help protect journalists at risk, the current government along with the UK formed a Media Freedom Coalition in July 2019, a partnership of countries working together to advocate for media freedom and for the safety of journalists. In recent weeks, the high-level panel of refugee experts have released three reports on behalf of the coalition, including one authored by Canada’s former Minister of Justice Irwin Cotler.
We see this proposal as a chance for Canada to act quickly on one of its own report’s recommendations.
By establishing the “Journalists at Risk” category within its refugee protection program, and following through with its offer to provide safe haven to human rights advocates, Canada would truly be demonstrating its commitment to protecting voices and lives that are threatened with the ultimate form of censorship.
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Source: MEDIA FEED