Head of Committee to Protect Journalists to Step Down

After 15 years as the manager director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, Joel Simon mentioned on Wednesday that he would step down by the tip of the yr.

Founded in 1981, the Committee to Protect Journalists is a nonprofit group that defends the rights of journalists all over the world. Mr. Simon, 56, joined in 1997 and has been in cost since 2006.

In an interview, Mr. Simon mentioned that, when he joined the group, he was hopeful concerning the potential of journalists to do their jobs safely. But after greater than three a long time of serving to to safe the releases of a whole bunch of imprisoned or detained journalists all over the world, he has misplaced some of that optimism.

“Governments are increasingly taking aggressive action toward journalists, and there are very few consequences,” Mr. Simon mentioned. “During the Trump administration, we saw a connection in governments appropriating ‘fake news’ and use it to justify imprisoning journalists. We’ve also seen governments brazenly use violence.”

Record numbers of journalists have been jailed all over the world in recent times, in accordance to the Committee to Protect Journalists, with 274 imprisoned in 2020. That identical yr, 22 journalists have been killed whereas doing their jobs, up from 10 in 2019. At least seven have been murdered this yr, in accordance to the committee.

As proof of “violent and repressive forces” which have chilled information protection, Mr. Simon cited the 2018 assassination of the Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, a author who was essential of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia and whose homicide was authorized by him, in accordance to a current United States intelligence report; and the current forcing down of a airplane carrying a dissident journalist, Roman Protasevich, by President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko of Belarus.

A risk to journalists within the United States was aggressive policing throughout demonstrations, Mr. Simon added.

“When journalists get arrested at protests in the United States, those images echo around the world and they send a message to so many places that this is the way police behave even in democratic countries,” he mentioned. “And therefore, arresting journalists at protests in Moscow or covering protests in Myanmar, which we’re seeing now, is less shocking and generates less attention.”

Kathleen Carroll, the committee’s board chair, will lead the seek for Mr. Simon’s successor, together with the manager search agency Spencer Stuart.

“Autocrats who feel they can kill people and harassment through technology and monitoring through technology — all of that is a new threat,” Ms. Carroll mentioned. “Whoever is going to get this job needs to be able to think ahead about where new threats will be coming from and how to organize the staff and resources.”