I’m immensely grateful for free press organizations, which advocate for free speech and freedom of the press—two very important pillars of any functioning democracy.
Thanks to these organizations’ compelling research, we can access a treasure trove of data about crackdowns on journalists and the important role that watchdog media play in today’s troubled world. The Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders, for instance, provide annual stats about the state of press freedoms. Free Press Unlimited supports local journalists who are working in war and conflict zones, so that trustworthy info reaches us.
These organizations also provide journalists with emergency legal and/or financial assistance. It’s not possible to overstate the importance of this support: As newsrooms continue to downsize and as more media workers go independent, many journalists are left on their own when it comes to dealing with the consequences of their fact-finding reports. Lawsuits, censorship, imprisonment, nonsense fines, harassment, and even murder—this is what investigative journalists the world over face on a daily basis.
With extreme political rhetoric and government malfeasance on the rise, we need investigative journalism more than ever. Such media shine a spotlight on anti-democratic “movements,” unjustified wars and government-corporate corruption, making it easier for societies to demand accountability and transparency.
As you can see via some of the posts in this site’s News section, the foremost transparency and free press orgs have supported #FreeOkkeOrnstein by speaking out for Okke’s release from prison in Panama. In so doing, they often took Panama’s government to task for its outdated approach to press laws, including criminalizing defamation.
Okke and I continue to grapple with the aftermath of his five-week imprisonment. It’s difficult to describe the emotional and financial toll that this situation imposes on our family—and the prison circumstances in Panama are rosy compared to, say, Egypt and Turkey. My heart therefore goes out to all the journalists and their families who are managing intensities like jail terms and bank-breaking legal costs.
Thanks to the organizations listed here for providing funds to cover roughly half our initial legal fees:
Please: If you can, support these organizations. Make donations and spread the word about their efforts worldwide.
The #FreeOkkeOrnstein legal journey continues. As Okke said in my video interview with him during his “vacation” in Renacer Prison, his situation could be paving the road to bringing Panama’s press laws in line with international standards. Up next, then: taking Panama to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR)—for violations of his rights, along with the potential bonus of helping eliminate criminal press laws in Panama. You can join this cause by making the IACHR case possible—donate to the legal fund.