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Organization Launches #FreeThePress Campaign for Jailed Journalists amid COVID-19 Pandemic

The Committee to Protect Journalists is Asking for the Public to Help Free Jailed Journalists, by Signing Petition and Using Hashtag #FreeThePress

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an independent, nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide, is asking leaders in countries where journalists are currently incarcerated, to be set free amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Defending the rights of  journalists to report the news safely and without fear of reprisal, CPJ launched its #FreeThePress campaign on Monday to “call for the unconditional release of all jailed journalists to ensure their safety during the … pandemic.”

CPJ has found that 250 journalists are currently jailed at this time due to their work covering stories throughout the world. And CPJ warns that those journalists now face a potential death sentence due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, noting that the World Health Organization has said prisoners are particularly vulnerable to the virus, as self-isolation in jail is impossible, and prisoners are routinely denied medical treatment.

“CPJ has long held the view that jailing journalists for what they publish, broadcast, or write is a violation of international law,” said Joel Simon, CPJ’s executive director. “But our current appeal is of a humanitarian nature. COVID-19 is spreading rapidly through prisons. We urge world leaders to take quick and decisive action to free all journalists behind bars, as a matter of life and death.”

In a letter written to world leaders, CPJ wrote, “Journalism must not carry a death sentence… We ask all world leaders to protect the free press and the free flow of information at this crucial time.”  The organization also started a multi-language petition which, within minutes of its launch, garnered over 300 signatures.

To support the release of journalists, CPJ suggests the public use hashtag #FreeThePress on social media.

The campaign will culminate on World Press Freedom Day, May 3, 2020. 


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