We are writing on behalf of the
World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers and the World Editors Forum,
which represent 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000
companies in more than 120 countries, to express our serious concern at the
jailing of two journalists by a Special Court.
to reports, on 17 January Moaz Al-Ashihabi, a journalist for the Al
Thaqafieh newspaper, was sentenced to one year in jail by a Special
Court for journalists for writing an article that "infringes on the
Islamic faith". He has also been banned from writing for one year. This followed
the sentencing to three months in jail of Anisa Othman, a journalist for the
weekly Al-Wasat, on 16 January for writing an article deemed offensive to you.
She was also banned from practising journalism for one year.
The authorities have been waging a
campaign of intimidation against the press since May 2009 when eight newspapers
were banned and the Special Court was set up. In recent months,
several more newspapers have been banned, at least two other journalists have
been detained, police have laid siege to Al-Ayyam newspaper and one journalist
We respectfully remind you that
imprisoning journalists for carrying out their professional duties constitutes
a clear breach of the right to freedom of expression, which is guaranteed by
numerous international conventions, including the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights. Article 19 of the Declaration states: "Everyone has the right to
freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes the freedom to hold
opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and
ideas through any media, regardless of frontiers."
We respectfully call on you to
ensure that all journalists in detention are released immediately and that your
government stops its campaign to suppress critical media. We also urge you to
take all necessary steps to ensure that in future your country fully respects
international standards of free expression.
We look forward to hearing from you
at your earliest convenience.
World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers