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Reporters Without Borders publishes a first Guide for exiled journalists

June 20, 2009

June 18, 2009 - Reporters Without Borders today marked World Refugee Day by publishing a guide for journalists driven into exile, to provide them with information about the procedures and potential obstacles in seeking asylum. Again this year, a large number of journalists, from Sri Lanka, Mexico, Pakistan, Russia and Somalia have been fleeing their country at an average rate of six a month. Some have had to leave for ever after putting their lives in danger to provide independent news.

"Until now there has been no specific information available for journalists driven into exile", the worldwide press freedom organisation said. "The protection of refugees depends on appropriate information being available. Journalists fleeing persecution are vulnerable, often in a state of shock and utterly unequipped to deal with the steps they need to take. They are often surprised not have easier access to international protection. Lacking reliable information, some take unwise risks and fall into traps or become victims of unfair proceedings. The recent imprisonment of Mexican journalist Emilio Gutiérrez, who sought exile in the United States, should not happen again," Reporters Without Borders said.

The publication of the guide, illustrated by exiled cartoonists, is also the occasion to remind the public of how these journalists continue the fight for free and independent news, by creating blogs, drawing cartoons, publishing articles or founding a radio or television in exile.

"These independent and committed professionals are vital witnesses for countries in which there is no free press or it is heavily repressed. Exiled media, like the Democratic Voice of Burma based in Norway, Burma′s first independent TV and radio, and the recent inauguration of an independent Eritrean radio, Radio Erena, stand in the way of attempts by the oppressors to gag the free press", it added.

Reporters Without Borders has since the beginning of 2007 helped more than 200 media workers to flee 39 countries. They suffered reprisals from governments, terrorist groups, organised crime or religious groups. This guide - which will be added to in the light of experience - covers the steps to be taken with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and also asylum procedures within the European Union, the United States and Canada. It also provides practical advice and details of specialist organisations.

Almost half of exiled journalists assisted by Reporters Without Borders spend several years in countries like Yemen, Sudan and Turkey so that they can one day stabilise their situation and resume a normal life. The luckier ones attempt to rebuild their lives in safe country where they have been able to make an asylum application. In France, they get help from the Maison des journalistes, which next Wednesday opens an exhibition entitled, "Danger! (press) cartoons."

For more information contact:
Reporters Without Borders
Phone: 33 1 44 83 84 84

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