The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) released a report on Thursday, in which they advised that the global focus on Iran’s financial ties with Europe “could represent an opening to engage on press freedom”.
The CPJ called on European governments and institutions to make press freedom an “explicit and essential element of conversations with Iranian officials in bilateral and multilateral meetings”.
Diplomats from the European Union, particularly Britain, France, and Germany, have talked with their Iranian country’s on several occasions, since Donald Trump withdrew the US from the 2015 accord between six world powers and Iran on May 8. Trump, who has called the accord the “worst deal ever”, cited the deals many flaws, including a failure to address Iran’s human rights problems, as his reason for pulling out.
Sherif Mansour, the Committee to Protect Journalists’ Middle East and North Africa Program coordinator, said negotiators should make media rights a priority.
Mansour, who presented the CPJ report on press freedom in Iran at the European Parliament in Brussels on May 24, said: “[Iranian] President [Hassan] Rouhani needs to be held to the press freedom commitments he made.”
The CPJ also urged the US government to help journalists in Iran access software that will circumvent the Regime’s censorship and surveillance. This will provide the journalists with information not carried by the Regime’s state-run media and allow them to get stories out to the world, but it will also help them evade imprisonment or worse from the Regime.
According to the CPJ, they found that five journalists were imprisoned in Iran. However, it is important to note that the Regime often underplays the true number of prisoners of conscience in their jails and that the number has risen a lot given the recent Iranian uprising and the Regime’s subsequent violent crackdown.
Heather Nauert, a representative for the US State Department, expressed concern about the “grave conditions” facing the press in Iran back in March, following the release of a detailed report from the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights.
Nauert called on Iran to respect its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to guarantee the freedom of expression, including for members of the press.
However, as always, the Iranian Regime has not done anything to ensure the safety of the press.