Home Page > News Item > On World Press Freedom Day PEN calls for Safeguarding of Free Expression Worldwide

Today, Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world.

3 May 2017 – Press freedom is deteriorating globally with journalists and writers increasingly facing harassment, threat, arrest, trial and even death. With increasing crises and conflicts, mass crackdowns on the press and dissent, growing populism and nationalism, freedom of expression is in retreat in all five continents and press freedom has never been so threatened.

Legal harassment, increasing surveillance, and violence by state and non-state actors against journalists combine to worsen conditions in many countries; from those who have long been perpetrators of these sorts of violations such as China to new and emerging systems of oppression such as Turkey – which today is the biggest jailer of journalists.

‘It is a great tragedy that as the urgency for us to speak out against oppressive regimes increases, so too do the restrictions on freedom of expression worldwide. Our global membership includes dozens of writers who are currently behind bars and hundreds more who have experienced death threats, harassment, and arrest because of their work.  It is imperative we continue to fight for the safeguarding of freedom of expression as a fundamental right, and essential that we do this together,’ said Sahar Halaimzai, PEN International’s Campaigns and Communications manager.

This year PEN is highlighting press freedom violations in six countries:

  • China – The number of detained and imprisoned writers in China is among the highest in the world and include at least ten ICPC members; read more and take action here.
  • Eritrea – In 2017 Eritrea continues to be one of the worst jailers of writers and dissident voices, earning the dubious honour of the most censored country in the world; read more and take action here.
  • Iran – Censorship of print and digital media remains common with writers, journalists, musicians and artists continuing to face harassment, threats or arrest; read more and take action here.
  • MexicoMexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world in which to be a journalist, with at least 83 writers and print journalists killed since 2004; three journalists were killed in March 2017 alone; read more and take action here.
  • Russia – The free expression environment in Russia has worsened considerably in recent years; violence against journalists is common and often goes unpunished; read more and take action here.
  • Turkey – Turkey is currently experiencing an unprecedented crackdown on free expression with173 media outlets shut down and more than 150 journalists and media workers imprisoned; read more and take action here.

View previous PEN actions for World Press Freedom Day here.