MONTREAL, Sept. 8 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders has written to
the 27 European Union ministers responsible for asylum policy ahead of this
week's "Building a Europe of Asylum" ministerial conference in Paris, asking
them to do more to protect the dozens of journalists and free speech activists
who are forced into exile each year to escape reprisals by governments or
"The current situation is dramatic and most journalists seeking asylum -
who mainly come from Eritrea, Iran, Iraq or Sri Lanka - have difficulty
finding refuge," the letter says. "The long waits in the offices of the UN
High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the almost systematic refusal of
western embassies to grant them visas force the great majority to risk their
lives by resorting to illegal immigration methods.
"For this reason, there is an urgent need not only to recognise the
refugee status of journalists in your country seeking asylum but also to
facilitate procedures for protected entry and emergency resettlement."
The European governments cannot claim to be building a "Europe of asylum"
as long as people seeking protection are denied access to European territory,
Reporters Without Borders said. How can they defend the fact that, despite
tangible evidence of threats and dangers, some journalists spend years living
in refugee camps or hiding in cities where their safety is not guaranteed?
The two-day ministerial conference is due to begin in Paris on
8 September. The negotiations on asylum police are supposed to conclude in
October when the European Council is to adopt a European Pact on Immigration
Reporters Without Borders has helped more than 160 refugee journalists
since the start of 2007 and estimates that around 100 journalists are
currently waiting to be given protection.
For further information:
For further information: Katherine Borlongan, Executive Director,
Reporters Without Borders Canada, (514) 521-4111, firstname.lastname@example.org