Journalists the first casualty of the war on truth
The organisation is working on the cases of three journalists who are currently being persecuted for their work:
- Firas Nassuh Salim Al-Majali in Qatar
- Clara Britos, editor of an Argentinean newspaper, and
- Edward Terso Lado, a journalist in Sudan,
and is urging journalists in the UK to write to the authorities in those countries on their behalf. Firas Nassuh Salim Al-Majali, a Jordanian journalist working with the Qatar Television Network, was convicted and sentenced to death on 22 October 2002 on charges of spying for Jordanian Intelligence. Amnesty International believes he may be a prisoner of conscience being punished because of the diplomatic rift between Qatar and Jordan. Firas now faces execution unless he is pardoned by the Head of State. At least 20 people in Qatar are currently on death row.
Increasing reports from Argentina show that journalists in the country are often faced with threats and intimidation as they investigate the alleged involvement of public officials in corruption. Clara Britos, the owner and editor of the monthly newspaper La Tapa in Guernica, Buenos Aires Province, has been continuously subjected to death threats and intimidation by the local authorities following the publication of an article in her newspaper that highlighted corruption.
Amnesty International is also receiving reports of journalists and editors being subject to harassment and arbitrary arrest by the Sudanese security services. Edward Terso Lado, journalist on the English language newspaper the Khartoum Monitor, was arrested on 11 March at the newspaper offices. He has not been charged with any offence, and is reportedly being held incommunicado at an unknown location. Amnesty International believes he is a prisoner of conscience, held solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression.
Mark Chavunduka, Zimbabwean journalist who was detained and tortured in 1999, said: 'It's support from organisations like Amnesty International that has kept people like us going. If there is no support and if people feel there is no watchdog keeping an eye over the authorities, then the authorities will continue to do what they like'.
Amnesty International is urging UK journalists to support their international colleagues and make these stories public. The organisation asks UK journalists to write to the authorities in Firas', Clara's and Edward's countries emphasising their rights to freedom of expression. (details below).
Members of Amnesty International's Journalist Network take action on behalf of colleagues under threat. Details of how journalists can join the Network can be found online.