Increasing persecution against journalists

This story was published on Cardiff News Plus website in February 2015

According to Reporters Without Borders, already in 2015, 13 journalists have been killed and 164 have been imprisoned.

The detainment of Al Jazeera journalists Peter Greste, Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy is the most recent case of journalists being imprisoned for doing their work. They were accused of supporting Muslim Brotherhood –named as a terrorist group– and spent more than a year in an Egyptian prison. Greste was released in February 1st and last week visited Cardiff University to talked about his experience in Egypt. He thinks that a sort of convention on freedom of expression is need to be held by governments. However, he does not see a specific legislation to protect journalists (click in the audio below).


Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy were released two weeks later. The Egyptian Court has postponed their re-trial to next month which had been set for today.

Persecution against journalists is a problem across the world and its unstoppable increase has awakened many concerns.

Leticia Alvarez is a foreign correspondent based in Ukraine. She describes the situation as extremely difficult due to the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia. Journalists receive a lot of pressure from both authorities. Ukraine has established a ministry of information that keeps a strict control over everything that is published in the country. Journalists are often stopped on the streets by police and military personnel to revise or even delete what they have filmed or photographed. Under the threat of arrest if they don’t do so. Having said that, Ms. Alvarez says that local journalists are the ones who receive more pressure. “Ukrainian journalists cannot access to pro-Russia zone and Russians cannot access to Ukrainian area. Some of them are stopped in the airport and sent back to Russia, others simply illegally cross the border.” Click to the audio below to listen to Leticia Alvarez’s experience as a journalist in Ukraine.


A journalist in Turkey, Mehmet Yilmat is also working under pressure as the Turkish government has been accused of not linking media organizations that publish materials against them. Mr. Yilmat was taken once to the court by the government. “Thankfully I didn’t get any charges because Turkish recent judicial opinion about freedom of expression and the European Court of Human Rights prevented Turkish prosecutors from taking the issue further,” he says. Up to 30 journalists are detained or convicted in Turkey with the accusation of links with terrorist groups. Click to the audio below to listen to Mehmet Yilmat’s opinion about the lack of freedom of speech in Turkey.



Sonia Corona is a Mexican journalist. She says that she has never received any pressure from the Mexican authorities but she knows there are many cases of abuse against journalists. She thinks that it is not a problem of lack of legislation. Rather, it has more to do with the failure of applying the law. “In Mexico there is a mechanism that protects journalists under threat, but the problem is that half of the petitions are not attended,” Sonia says.

ournalists Protest against rising violence during a march in Mexico City. Photo: Knight foundation. Creative Commons
Journalists protest against rising violence during a march in Mexico City. Photo: Knight foundation. Creative Commons

Towards the end of last year, the Inter-Regional Dialogue on the protection of journalists highlighted “the need to enforce and upgrade legal protections for journalists whose safety and security are threatened because of their work”. Media organizations have also urged the UN to improve the protection of journalists. However, this petition does not seem to be easily achieved. Cardiff University Media Law Professor Duncan Bloy thinks that even if UN adopted a sort of principles to improve the legislation to protect journalists, the process would not be quick or easy. “Principles would need to be agreed, UN would have to adopt them into a convention, and then it would be up to every country to include the convention in their own legislation,” said Professor Bloy.

Egypt is ranked 158th out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders’ press freedom index. Ukraine is 129th, Mexico is 148th, and Turkey 149th.