UPDATE – 5 May 2020: English PEN have joined Committee to Protect Journalists and over 190 press freedom and human rights organisations from across the globe in writing to the UN Secretary General António Guterres urging him to take immediate action to secure the release of journalists jailed around the world whose lives are risk due to the spread of COVID-19. Read the full text of the letter here.
To mark this year’s World Press Freedom Day on 3 May, English PEN is asking our members and supporters to join us in calling on governments across the globe to release all journalists and other writers detained in violation of their right to freedom of expression.
This year marks 60 years since PEN’s Writers in Prison Committee, now one of the world’s longest-running campaigns for freedom of expression, was formally established to provide support and solidarity for colleagues in prison, and to campaign for their release.
As a result of the ongoing pandemic, the need for those imprisoned for the legitimate expression of their views to be released is perhaps more urgent that it has ever been. The World Health Organisation has stated that ‘People deprived of their liberty, and those living or working in enclosed environments in their close proximity, are likely to be more vulnerable to the COVID-19 disease than the general population’. They are also at increased risk of human rights violations, including a lack of access to medical attention and legal representation. These issues are affecting hundreds of imprisoned journalists and writers across the world.
Today, we join Committee to Protect Journalists and other Free The Press partners in calling on governments around the world to release all those detained in violation of their right to freedom expression immediately and unconditionally. Please join us.