More journalists are behind bars than ever before, and the murder of journalists goes unpunished in more than 80% of cases. In addition to physical attacks, authorities use criminal prosecutions and detention to target press freedom. Journalists face charges such as defamation, incitement, sedition, dissemination of fake news, endangering national security and violation of cybercrime laws.

Female Protesters in Pakistan hold a banner demanding an end to the flawed Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act

A growing number of governments treat journalists as ideological enemies of the state.

At CFJ our initiatives not only advocate for journalists who have been prosecuted, convicted and detained, but tackle the root cause of censorship and diminishing press freedom – unjust laws and authoritarian governments that threaten press freedom.

Did you know

The formidable Filipino journalist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa was awarded the Justice for Journalists Award by Meryl Streep at our inaugural Albie Awards in 2022 for her reporting exposing government corruption and human rights violations in the Philippines. Maria is a client of Amal Clooney and in January 2023 was acquitted of multiple tax evasion charges. She described the case as a “pattern of harassment.”

A sign that reads 'Defend Press Freedom'

Press Freedom on Trial

With press freedom under attack, it is more important than ever that we know what is taking place in the courtroom so as to expose journalists’ unjust prosecutions. This data, however, is not generally available. As the only comprehensive global program monitoring criminal trials, the Clooney Foundation for Justice’s TrialWatch Initiative – now active in over 40 countries – is filling this gap.

TrialWatch has monitored over 50 cases against journalists who have been targeted because of their reporting. TrialWatch has covered crackdowns on press freedom in countries ranging from Belarus to India to Hong Kong to Morocco. Using our findings, we have undertaken litigation and advocacy to stop sham prosecutions, secure the release of numerous professional and citizen journalists, and fight for the repeal of laws that threaten press freedom.

Groups of journalists gathered in front of ABS-CBN Broadcast Center in Quezon City, Philippines to continue their campaign to 'defend press freedom' on the first year anniversary of ABS-CBN shutdown on May 5, 2021. (Photo by Sherbien Dacalanio / Pacific Press/Sipa USA)No Use Germany.
Protesters in Morocco demand freedom for journalist Hajar Raissouni by holding her pictures

A 2021 contribution from the Google News Initiative (GNI) to TrialWatch will focus on championing press freedom. The contribution will support TrialWatch’s efforts to secure justice for journalists around the world who have been unjustly prosecuted and imprisoned.

Did you know

In Venezuela, Reporters Without Borders reports that many journalists have fled the country since 2018 because of physical danger. Both print and online media sources have suffered from harassment, including repeated cyberattacks. CFJ’s work gathering evidence of international crimes in the country will now lend investigative support to the ICC and help get justice for those who have suffered.

Activists protest in Bangladesh demanding release of photojournalist Shafiqul Islam Kajol

I feel extremely good [that my trial is being monitored] … It gives me a sense of hope, and it gives me some courage.

Shafiqul Kajol
Our work has led to innocent journalists being freed from prison after we exposed their sham trials. (Suvra Kanti Das/ABACAPRESS.COM)

Did you know

Recipient of multiple awards including the Committee to Protect Journalists’ Gwen Ifill Award for ‘extraordinary and sustained achievement in the cause of press freedom’, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press‘ Freedom of the Press Award, and the American Society of International Law’s Champion of the International Rule of Law’ award, CFJ Co-Founder Amal Clooney has successfully freed clients even in the most challenging legal landscapes. This includes Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, detained in Myanmar following their coverage of the genocide of Rohingya Muslims, Al Jazeera’s former bureau chief for Egypt, Mohamed Fahmy, and former President of the Maldives Mohamed Nasheed.