NWU and IFJ raise our voices for jailed journalists at UN World Press Freedom Day

NWU members Despina Afentouli (photo above) and Edward Hasbrouck, along with members of other affiliates of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), represented the NWU and IFJ at an all-day symposium held in the General Assembly chamber at United Nations headquarters in New York on World Press Freedom Day, May 2, 2023.

We distributed a statement from IFJ noting the lack of progress on protection of journalists 30 years after the first annual World Press Freedom Day. In this statement, IFJ renewed its call for a new binding international treaty, a U.N. convention to protect journalists, “that will strengthen press freedom by forcing governments to investigate and respond to attacks against the media.”

Since this event was being held in the U.S., we also took the opportunity, the first time that questions were taken from the floor, to raise our voice in the U.N. chamber on behalf of journalist members of the NWU and other IFJ affiliates who have been criminalized and imprisoned by the U.S. government:

[click image above or click here for video clip of NWU & IFJ representative Edward Hasbrouck]

I represent the International Federation of Journalists and the National Writers Union, one of its affiliates here in the United States.

Since we’re naming names, I want to call the attention of this body to Julian Assange, who the U.S. is attempting to criminalize for publishing truthful information about U.S. war crimes, and the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, a journalist and a member of our organization who has been imprisoned for decades in the United States.

My question is:

Since you are speaking of accountability, while it’s easy to speak of accountability for individual actors or to criticize small states in the global South, what are the means of accountability that can hold accountable the government of a great power such as the United States, in the global North, when its government attempts to criminalize journalism?

A delegation including NWU President Larry Goldbetter and representatives of other IFJ affiliates visited Mumia Abu-Jamal in prison in March 2023 to express solidarity with him as journalists.

U.N. human rights experts have spoken out against the treatment of Mumia Abu-Jamal, although not specifically about the violation of his human rights as a journalist.

Throughout his imprisonment since 1981, Mumia has been undeterred in continuing to practice journalism, writing books and articles and producing radio commentaries from prison. Mumia recently  began contributing articles to this NWU blog. We are proud to have Mumia as an NWU member, and we will continue to work for his freedom as a wrongly imprisoned journalist.

(Watch an interview with Larry Goldbetter and Edward Hasbrouck of the NWU by Steve Zeltzer of the Labor Video Project and Workweek Radio: “NWU & IFJ Actions On World Press Freedom Day For Journalists Julian Assange and Mumia Abu-Jamal”.)