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Reporters Sans Frontières
|Type||non-profit, non-governmental organization with consultant status at the United Nations|
|Director General||Christophe Deloire
(since July 2012)
|Budget|| Income: €4.2 million (2011)
Expense: €4.6 million (2011)
Reporters Without Borders (RWB, also Reporters Sans Frontières, RSF) is a France-based international non-profit, non-governmental organization that promotes and defends freedom of information and freedom of the press. The organization has consultant status at the United Nations.
Reporters Without Borders has two primary spheres of activity: one is focused on Internet Censorship and the New Media, and the other on providing material, financial and psychological assistance to journalists assigned to dangerous areas. Its missions are to:
Reporters Without Borders was founded in 1985, by Robert Ménard, Rémy Loury, Jacques Molénat and Émilien Jubineau, in Montpellier, France. Its head office is in the 2nd arrondissement of Paris. RWB also maintains offices in Berlin, Brussels, Geneva, Madrid, Rome, Stockholm, Tunis, Vienna, and Washington, D.C.
At first, the association worked to promote alternative journalism, but there were disagreements between the founders. Finally, only Robert Ménard stayed and he changed the organization's direction towards promoting freedom of the press. Reporters Without Borders states that it draws its inspiration from Article 19 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, according to which everyone has "the right to freedom of opinion and expression" and also the right to "seek, receive and impart" information and ideas "regardless of frontiers."
Reporters Without Borders’ primary means of direct action are appeals to government authorities through letters or petitions, as well as frequent press releases. Through its world-wide network of roughly 150 correspondents, RWB gathers information and conducts investigations of press freedom violations by region (Europe, Asia-Pacific, Middle East and North Africa, and the Americas) or topic. If necessary, it will send a team of its own to assess working conditions for journalists in a specific country. It releases annual reports on countries as well as the Press Freedom Index. It has launched advertising campaigns with the pro bono assistance of advertising firms to raise public awareness of threats to freedom of information and freedom of the press, to undermine the image of countries that it considers enemies of freedom of expression, and to discourage political support by the international community for governments that attack rather than protect freedom of information.
RWB also provides assistance for journalists and media who are either in danger or are having difficulty subsisting. They provide money to assist exiled or imprisoned journalists and their families and the unsupported families of journalists who have been killed; to enable journalists to leave their home countries if they are in danger there; to repair the effects of vandalism on media outlets; to cover the legal fees of journalists who have been prosecuted for their writings or the medical bills of those who have been physically attacked; and upon occasion, to provide bullet-proof vests for use by journalists.
Reporters Without Borders is a founding member of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange, a virtual network of non-governmental organizations that monitors free expression violations worldwide and defends journalists, writers and others who are persecuted for exercising their right to freedom of expression.
RWB has a presence in 150 countries through local correspondents who act as information relays and through close collaborations with local and regional press freedom groups, including:
|Bangladesh||Bangladesh Centre for Development, Journalism and Communication (BCDJC)|
|Belarus||Burma Media Association (BMA)|
|Colombia||Ceso-FIP (Solidarity Centre-International Federation of Journalists)|
|Colombia||Colombian Federation of Journalists (FECOLPER)|
|Democratic Republic of Congo||Journalist In Danger (JED)|
|Eritrea||Association of Eritrean Journalists in Exile|
|Honduras||Committee for Free Expression (C-Libre)|
|Iraq||Journalistic Freedom Observatory (JFO)|
|Kazakhstan||Journalists in Danger|
|Mexico||Centre for Journalism and Public Ethics (CEPET)|
|Pakistan||Tribal Union of Journalists (TUJ)|
|Romania||Media Monitoring Agency|
|Russia||Glasnost Defence Foundation (GDF)|
|Somalia||National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ)|
|Sri Lanka||Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka (JDS)|
|Thailand||Thai Netizen Network (TNN)|
|Zimbabwe||Zimbabwe Journalists for Human Rights (ZJHR)|
Through the years RWB has received a number of awards, including:
Reporters Without Borders issues press releases, fact finding reports, and periodical publications. It publishes periodic mission reports on developments in individual countries or regions or on a specific topic. Each December it publishes an annual overview of events related to freedom of information and the safety of journalists. It maintains a web site (www.rsf.org) accessible in six languages (French, English, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, and Farsi).
RWB compiles and publishes an annual ranking of countries based upon the organization's assessment of their press freedom records. Small countries, such as Andorra, are excluded from this report.
The report is based on a questionnaire sent to partner organizations of Reporters Without Borders (14 freedom of expression groups in five continents) and its 130 correspondents around the world, as well as to journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists.
The survey asks questions about direct attacks on journalists and the media as well as other indirect sources of pressure against the free press. RWB is careful to note that the index only deals with press freedom, and does not measure the quality of journalism. Due to the nature of the survey's methodology based on individual perceptions, there are often wide contrasts in a country's ranking from year to year.
In May 2012 there were 41 predators:
RWB maintains a "Press Freedom Barometer" on its web site showing the number of journalists, media assistants, netizens, and citizen journalists killed or imprisoned during a year.
Over the years, RWB has published several handbooks to provide assistance to journalists and bloggers, and to raise public awareness, including:
In conjunction with its World Day Against Cyber Censorship, RWB updates its Enemies of the Internet and Countries under surveillance lists.
In 2006, Reporters without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF), a Paris-based international non-governmental organization that advocates freedom of the press, started publishing a list of "Enemies of the Internet". The organization classifies a country as an enemy of the internet because "all of these countries mark themselves out not just for their capacity to censor news and information online but also for their almost systematic repression of Internet users." In 2007 a second list of countries "Under Surveillance" (originally "Under Watch") was added. Both lists are updated annually.
Enemies of the Internet:
Countries Under Surveillance:
When the "Enemies of the Internet" list was introduced in 2006, it listed 13 countries. From 2006 to 2012 the number of countries listed fell to 10 and then rose to 12. Belarus, Egypt, and Tunisia moved to the "Countries under surveillance" list in 2009, 2011, and 2011 respectively. Belarus moved back and Bahrain was added to the list in 2012.
When the "Countries under surveillance" list was introduced in 2008, it listed 10 countries. Between 2008 and 2012 the number of countries listed grew to 16 and then fell to 14. In addition to the moves to and from the "Enemies of the Internet" list noted earlier, Jordan in 2009, Tajikistan in 2009, and Yemen in 2010 were dropped from the list and Australia in 2009, France in 2011, Russia in 2010, South Korea in 2009, Turkey in 2010 were added. Bahrain, Eritrea, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka dropped from the list in 2010, but were added again in 2011. Libya dropped from the list in 2009, added again in 2011, and then dropped in 2012. Venezuela was added in 2011 and then dropped in 2012.
On 12 March 2013 Reporters Without Borders published a "Special report on Internet Surveillance". The report includes two new lists:
The five "Corporate Enemies of the Internet" named in March 2013 are: Amesys (France), Blue Coat Systems (U.S.), Gamma (UK and Germany), Hacking Team (Italy), and Trovicor (Germany), but the list is not exhaustive and will be expanded in the coming months.
Three times a year starting in 1992 RWB publishes a photography book in its series "100 Photos for Press Freedom" to both raise awareness and raise funds to support RWB's operations. In 2010 roughly 45% of RWB's income came from sales of these and other related items (t-shirts, cards, ...). The books are distributed for free by the Nouvelles Messageries de la Presse Parisienne, or NMPP). The books are sold by the French leisure chains and supermarkets Fnac, Carrefour, Casino, Monoprix and Cora, the websites alapage.com, fnac.com, and amazon.fr, as well as A2Presse and over 300 bookshops throughout France.
Reporters Without Borders holds several events through the year to promote press and Internet freedom.
Released each January the annually published World Press Freedom Index measures the degree of freedom enjoyed by the media in over 170 countries.
Reporters Without Borders launched the first International Online Free Expression Day on 12 March 2008. Now named World Day Against Cyber Censorship, this annual event rallies support for an unrestricted Internet, accessible to all. On 12 March RWB awards its Netizen Prize and issues its report on freedom of information in cyberspace and an “Enemies of the Internet” list which identifies those countries that are censoring the Web and harassing internet users.
On World Day Against Cyber Censorship Reporters Without Borders awards an annual Netizen Prize that recognizes an Internet user, blogger, cyber-dissident, or group who has made a notable contribution to the defense of online freedom of expression. Starting in 2010 the prize has been awarded to:
Starting in 1992, Reporters Without Borders publishes its “Predators of Press Freedom” list of politicians, government officials, religious leaders, militias and criminal organisations who openly target journalists.
The Reporters Without Borders Prize, in which Le Monde became a partner in 2011, was created in 1992 and is given annually to a journalist (and since 2003 a news media and a cyber-dissident as well) that made, in RWB’s words, “a significant contribution to the defence and promotion of press freedom.” Prize recipients:
Reporters Without Borders awards a cyber-dissident prize under various names including: Cyber-Freedom Prize and Cyber-dissident. Winners include:
RWB conducts advertising campaigns, jointly with communications professionals, to inform the public and to create bad publicity for governments that violate freedom of information. The campaigns are circulated to the media, international organisations, government agencies, and educational institutions using the Internet as well as traditional media channels.
RWB organises symbolic actions in front of the embassies of countries that restrict freedom of information and at various summits and key international events. Photos and videos from these “blitz” interventions are distributed by the international media which helps raise public awareness and identify the enemies of press freedom.
In 2010 the RWB annual budget was 4.3 million euros:
|2010 budget: 4.3 million euros|
|Sources of income:|
|45.4%||Publisations and related products|
|17.8%||Corporate donors and foundtions|
|16.9%||Government and other public funds|
|7.0%||Roland Berger Award from Human Dignity|
|4.7%||Private donations and bequests|
|3.9%||membership dues, foreign exchange, interest, ...|
|61.1%||Programs in France|
|1.7%||Depreciation and amortization|
Over the years RWB's private funding has come from groups and organizations such as Sanofi-Aventis, François Pinault, the Fondation de France, the Open Society Institute of George Soros, the Sigrid Rausing Trust, Benetton, and the Center for a Free Cuba.
In addition various private groups and organizations have supported RWB through in-kind donations of their services. The photography books are one example as is the work of Saatchi & Saatchi which created various communication campaigns for free (for instance, concerning censorship in Algeria).
Public funding has come from organisations such as the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights of the European Commission, the French Development Agency, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, UNESCO, the Organisation internationale de la francophonie, the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, a quasi-government organization funded by the ROC Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the National Endowment for Democracy, a branch of the U.S. State Department.
Daniel Junqua, the vice-president of the French section of RWB (and also vice-president of the NGO Les Amis du Monde diplomatique), stated that funding from the National Endowment for Democracy does not compromise RWB's impartiality.
Lucie Morillon, RWB's then-Washington representative, confirmed in an interview on 29 April 2005 that the organization had a contract with US State Department's Special Envoy to the Western Hemisphere, Otto Reich, who signed it in his capacity as a trustee for the Center for a Free Cuba, to inform Europeans about the repression of journalists in Cuba. CounterPunch, a critic of RWB, cited Reich's involvement with the group as a source of controversy: when Reich headed the Reagan administration's Office of Public Diplomacy in the 1980s, the body partook in what its officials termed "White Propaganda" – covert dissemination of information to influence domestic opinion regarding US backing for military campaigns against Left-wing governments in Latin America.
RWB has been highly critical of press freedom in Cuba, describing the Cuban government as "totalitarian", and engages in direct campaigning against it. RWB's campaign includes declarations on radio and television, full-page ads in Parisian dailies, posters, leafletting at airports, and an April 2003 occupation of the Cuban tourism office in Paris. A Paris court (tribunal de grande instance) ordered RWB to pay 6,000 Euros to the daughter and heir of Alberto Korda for non-compliance with a court order of 9 July 2003 banning it from using Korda's famous (and copyrighted) photograph of Ernesto "Che" Guevara in a beret, taken at the funeral of La Coubre victims. RWB said it was "relieved" it was not given a harsher sentence. The face had been superimposed by RWB with that of a May 1968 CRS anti-riot police agent, and the postcard handed out at Orly Airport in Paris to tourists boarding on flights for Cuba. On 24 April 2003, RWB organized a demonstration outside the Cuban embassy in Paris
RWB in turn has been described as an "ultra-reactionary" organization by the official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party, Granma. Tensions between Cuban authorities and RWB are high, particularly after the imprisonment in 2003 of 75 dissidents (27 journalists) by the Cuban Government, including Raúl Rivero and Óscar Elías Biscet. An article by John Cherian in the Indian magazine Frontline alleged that RWB "is reputed to have strong links with Western intelligence agencies" and "Cuba has accused Robert Meynard [sic] the head of the group, of having CIA links".
RWB has denied that its campaigning on Cuba are related to payments it has received from anti-Castro organisations. In 2004, it received $50,000 from the Miami based exile group, the Center for a Free Cuba, which was personally signed by the US State Department's Special Envoy to the Western Hemisphere, Otto Reich. RWB has also received extensive funding from other institutions long critical of Fidel Castro's government, including the International Republican Institute.
Journalist Salim Lamrani has accused Reporters Without Borders with making unsupported and contradictory statements regarding Internet connectivity in Cuba.
In 2004, Reporters Without Borders released an annual report on Haiti, saying that a "climate of terror" existed in which attacks and threats persisted against those journalists who were critical of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
An August 2006 article in CounterPunch accused RWB of ignoring similar attacks on journalists under the Latortue government in 2005 and 2006, including that of Pacifica Radio reporter Kevin Pina. Pina himself said:
It was clear early on that RWB and Robert Menard were not acting as objective guardians of freedom of the press in Haiti but rather as central actors in what can only be described as a disinformation campaign against Aristide's government ... They provide false information and skewed reports to build internal opposition to governments seen as uncontrollable and unpalatable to Washington while softening the ground for their eventual removal by providing justification under the pretext of attacks on the freedom of the press.
Le Monde diplomatique has criticized RWB's attitude towards Hugo Chávez's government in Venezuela, in particular during the 2002 coup attempt. In a right of reply, Robert Ménard declared that RWB had also condemned the Venezuela media's support of the coup attempt. RWB has also been criticized for supporting Globovision's version of events about its false reporting in relation to a 2009 earthquake, claiming Globovision was "being hounded by the government and the administration".
In 2007 John Rosenthal argued that RWB showed a bias in favor of European countries. In the 2009 article about RWB and Venezuela cited above, Salim Lamrani stated that "RSF is not an organization that defends freedom of the press, but is an obscure entity with a political agenda precisely commissioned to discredit through all possible means the progressive governments in the world that find themselves on the United States’ blacklist."
According to Observatoire de l'Action Humanitaire (Centre for Humanitarian Action), ever since Robert Ménard was replaced by Jean-François Julliard in September 2008, RWB has been concerned with violations of press freedom not only in "third-world dictatorships" but also in developed countries like France. Through widening its geographical scope, RWB aims at countering accusations of overly focusing on left-wing regimes unfriendly to the US.
UNESCO, who initially had granted patronage to the first International Online Free Expression Day to be held on 12 March 2008, withdrew its patronage on the day of the event giving as reasons that RWB "published material concerning a number of UNESCO's Member States, which UNESCO had not been informed of and could not endorse" and that "UNESCO's logo was placed in such a way as to indicate the Organization's support of the information presented." RWB responded in a press release that “UNESCO has withdrawn its support to the promotion of this campaign because several of the nations which are part of the list of Internet Enemies published by the nongovernmental organization have directly put pressure to achieve it.”
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