Reporters Without Borders in Berlin presents new desk “Help for Journalists in Need“

first_img With the newly created desk “Help for Journalists in Need” the German section of Reporters without Borders (RWB) can now systematically offer help and support to persecuted media professionals. The organisation, which works to protect press freedom and freedom of speech, is reacting to the high number of journalists in danger and those who have had to flee their home countries. “These people depend on help“, said Jean-François Julliard, the General Secretary of the organisation at the press conference in Berlin on the 19th of February. Legal assistance in case of persecution, financial aid, organising safe accomodations in severely threatening situations as well as help for those trying to escape are the main goals of the new area of work for Alexandra Tryjanowski, the lawyer in charge.At the opening event of the new office of RWB in Berlin, General Secretary Julliard pointed out the high number of refugees working in media worldwide and strongly criticised the European Unions´ visa policy for political refugees. “Many journalists and online activists risk their lives trying to illegally enter countries because it is practically impossible for refugees to gain an entry visa for a European country.” The states of the European Union have to stand up to their responsibilities and immediately and unburocratically help persecuted media professionals, bloggers and human rights activists”, demanded RWB General Secretary. It is the only way for these people to find enough protection. It would be cynical to publicly show solidarity with the people in Iran, who are marching in the streets for freedom or report about their protests, but then at the same time abandon those who are targets of political prosecution for publishing independent information.The visa policy of the European Union determines that only those people already located on European ground can apply for asylum. The efforts to secure the “fortress Europe” and the unwritten law of “not giving refuge to foreigners outside of Europe” does not give those persons concerned any other alternative. They need to choose between remaining in often precarious situations in neighbouring countries or taking on the dangers of illegally crossing the border to Europe.Granting visas in emergency cases is both essential and possible, which can be seen with the current Iran situation: “France has generously handed out emergency visas to journalists who had to flee from Iran during the critical situation there. Other European countries have followed suit – Germany however did not”, Julliard criticised. Since the end of October RWB has been urging the German government to issue humanitarian visas for emergency situations. No decision has been made on that matter so far.This dubious policy forces many journalists and activists to remain in neighbouring countries such as Yemen, Sudan, Iraq or Turkey for several months or even years. They often have no source of income, are still a target of their former persecuters and are additionally harrassed by the local authorities of the countries where they are seeking refuge. Supporting these people by providing them with accomodation or financing medical care is only one aspect of the RWB’s emergeny assistance for many years. An assistance desk was additionally set up in 2006 at the organisation´s headquarters in Paris to support journalists facing imminent danger.Establishing the new department within the German section has been made possible by the “Roland Berger Award for Human Dignity” 2009. RWB was awarded the prize by the Roland Berger Foundation last year for the efforts taken to protect press freedom and journalists living in danger. “Reporters without Borders has made it their duty to document offences against press freedom and to support journalists in need”, said Prof. Dr. h.c. Roland Berger, the Founder and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Roland Berger Foundation. “Awarding this organisation with this prize should encourage us all to protect press freedom and freedom of speech and as active citizens put them to good use.”Alexandra Tryjanowski, who is responsible for the new department for “migration law, refugee work and emergeny assistance“, can build upon the help for media professionals that RWB has been providing since 1994. “Now we can provide help and support directly here in Berlin by having access to a gradually growing professional and cross-linked structure. The support we can provide is more effective and gets there faster”, said Tryjanowski, who wants to put emphasis on providing local help: “Journalists who are assaulted or subjected to unjustified criminal proceedings because of any critical statements they make as a part of their job must know they are not alone. At the same time our work must also set an example to all those who disregard press freedom and freedom of speech.” RSF_en Organisation News February 19, 2010 – Updated on January 25, 2016 Reporters Without Borders in Berlin presents new desk “Help for Journalists in Need“ European Union must abandon restrictive granting of visas for victims of political persecution Help by sharing this informationlast_img read more