Last week, Jan Kuciak, a journalist investigating links between organised crime and politics, was shot dead – along with his fiancée. This happened not in a war zone, not in a dictatorship, but in Slovakia: an EU member state.
When I became chair of Index on Censorship five years ago, I was naïve.
Back then I thought that, in the West at least, the idea of freedom of speech and expression was largely a fought and won battle, and that internationally the Force was with us.
I’ve learned a lot in that half decade. I’ve seen great gains in countries such as Turkey thrown into sharp reverse, with life sentences for journalists just doing their job. I’ve seen not just the murder of Kuciak, but also the killing of an investigative journalist in Malta for exposing corruption. I’ve seen cartoonists gunned down in their office in a European capital city and then blamed for their own murders.
I’ve realised how easily we can suggest that we’re for freedom of expression from one corner of our mouths, yet espouse limiting such expression from the other.
But I’ve also witnessed the fight-back against such restrictive mentalities and outlooks. I’ve met the most inspiring people working in the most difficult and dangerous of circumstances, and been able to offer succour and resources.
I’ve been a small part of the argument for free speech and expression which Index never, ever stops making.
You can help make it too. To continue to do this effectively in the challenging times ahead, we need your help.
A donation of £20 ensures a verified attack against media freedom is mapped publicly online; a gift of £100 enables an official report to pressure governments; a gift of £1000 supports extensive fieldwork to identify and confirm reported violations.
Our goal is to raise at least £15,000 by the end of March to map attacks over the next six months and demand governments to do more to stop them.
I hope you will join me in supporting Index and your right to a free press. Please donate today.