“Reporters Without Borders” And Without Principles

Reporters without borders represent themselves as free press. But are they immune to political plays and ethics violations?

As stated on the official website of the Reporters Without Borders international journalistic organization, there are currently more journalists in Russian prisons than ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Verifying the validity of this statement is easy enough. An appeal to the database of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) shows that in 2018 in Russia, only 4 journalists were detained or were in prison.

Moreover, we do not observe a significant increase in the number of journalists deprived of their liberty in one way or another. Current statistics do not differ much from data for the mid-2000s or early 2010s. In 2016, there were as many journalists in prison or under arrest as in 2007.

It is also important to note that representatives of Reporters Without Borders claim there is a record number of imprisoned journalists. In these statistics, both convicted media employees and people who were eventually released from custody and fully acquitted were listed.

One important circumstance should be noted. According to CPJ only 16 journalists were arrested or imprisoned in the Russian Federation from 1992 to 2018.

It is important to note that the CPJ database is largely formed under the influence of political conditions. Russia’s opponents like to emphasize that the rights of journalists in Ukraine are supposedly better protected than in Russia. As a confirmation, they refer to the CPJ database, which states that from 2001 to 2019 only 2 journalists in Ukraine were under arrest or in prison: Kirill Vyshinsky and Vasily Muravitsky. Thus, compilers of the base ignored, at least, judicial proceedings and investigative actions concerning a number of the Ukrainian journalists who for years were in prisons “waiting for a sentence”.

Questions are also raised by CPJ statistics regarding the United States. The organization’s database makes no mention of the detention of journalists in the United States. However, according to the US Press Freedom Tracker, 10 journalists were arrested and taken into custody and/or charged with a criminal offense in the United States in 2018 alone.

Thus, information about large-scale repressions against journalists in Russia is absent even in the apparently politicized database of the organization, which is clearly sympathetic to Russia’s opponents in the international arena.

It should also be noted that the overall number of journalists imprisoned in Russia is negligible against the world “Champions” in this field. In the fully democratic state of Israel, 33 journalists were arrested or imprisoned during the same period – 2 times more than in the Russian Federation.

If we rely on the statistics of the US Press Freedom Tracker, the disproportion of the accusations against Russia becomes even more obvious. According to the organization, 46 journalists were arrested, detained and/or charged with a criminal offense in the United States between 1992 and 2018. At the same time, 10 of them were persecuted in 2018. Let’s not forget, 4 journalists were in prison or in custody in Russia in 2018 (according to CPJ).

In this context, the question arises: why the United States is on the 48th place, and Russia – on the 149th (Turkey – on the 157th) in the Index of press freedom “Reporters without borders”?! It is also completely incomprehensible how Afghanistan was ahead of Russia (121st place), where 10 journalists were killed with impunity in connection with their professional activities in 2018.

An analysis of the practice of the work of “Reporters Without Borders” in the international arena showed that the organization had allowed such distortions or silence regarding fundamentally significant events before. Also, in a number of cases, its representatives actually insisted on the need to censor the work of events involving the media.

The death of 16 employees of the Yugoslav television station RTS as a result of a NATO airstrike in April 1999 did not become an occasion for the organization to make claims to the alliance.

For many years, “Reporters Without Borders” hid the fact of the abduction in Pakistan of the Al-Jazeera television station’s operator Sami al-Hajj, who was placed in Guantanamo Jail and repeatedly tortured.

In 2002, during a coup attempt in Venezuela, Reporters Without Borders openly condemned journalists who spoke on the side of the government.

At the same time, the organization ignored the fact that opposition forces shoot on Italian journalists Nicolas Burlo and Alessandro Bombassey.

In 2003, Reporters Without Borders neglected the evidence of US Army guilt that was provided by relatives of Jose Cuoso, a Spanish cameraman who died in shelling by the Americans at the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad.

After the overthrow of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004 with US support, Reporters Without Borders announced the expansion of freedom of speech in the republic.

At the same time, the organization ignored the extrajudicial reprisal against journalist Jean Abdias and the arrest of Kevin Payne and Jean Ristil.

Even before Aristide was elected President, «Reporters Without Borders» tried to link his name to the murder of journalist Jean Dominique. However, when the alleged instigator of the crime, Senator Denis Toussaint, joined the opponents of Aristide, the organization made no attempt to bring him to justice.

In 2006, «Reporters Without Borders» issued a false statement that Iran had allegedly blocked access to the New York Times website and a number of other Western news resources.

In November 2017, «Reporters Without Borders» attempted to cancel a conference in Geneva on the «White Helmets» movement in Syria. The reason for this was the participation in the event of an independent British journalist Vanessa Beley and a representative of the NGO «Swedish Doctors for Human Rights» Marcello Ferranda de Noli. «Reporters Without Borders» designated them as «Russian Propagandists», demanding to deprive the designated persons of access to the conference.

In 2019, the organization responded with silence to the news of Iranian journalist Marzieh Hashemi detention in the United States.

All this suggests that «Reporters Without Borders» is a politically biased organization that does not act in the interests of a professional Corporation of Journalists.

Uncovered by the Media facts of organization was financed through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the International Republican Institute, and other agencies affiliated with the U.S. authorities, indicate that “Reporters Without Borders” is a tool to influence a certain part of the political establishment of the United States both internationally and domestically.