PORTRAIT. Tamilla Imanova: “It was impossible for the Russian people to remain silent.”

At just 26, Tamilla already has a brilliant humanitarian and professional record. With a degree in law from one of the best universities in Moscow, the young Russian earn her stripes as a lawyer at the Memorial Human Rights Defence Centre in the capital. Winner of the 2023 Marianne Initiative, Tamilla Imanova talks to Eye about the defence of human rights in Russia, and the impact of activism on the war in Ukraine.


A life for human rights and civil liberties

Defending human rights was not, however, her first career choice. At the age of 16, during a school exchange to the United States in Rio Vista, Texas, she discovered a standard of living unknown to her until then, which she would like to bring back to her native city in Russia.

People lived better than we do. Children could drive at 16, they had modern computers at school (we had them too, but old ones), better education and teachers were respectful,” she lists wistfully. “In Russia, teachers very often disrespect you, just as the government won’t respect you as a citizen.” A reflection also nourished by her hobbies such as tennis lessons and the chess club, gradually giving birth to a vocation within her.

The sunny young woman remembers that she didn’t want to become a lawyer in her first year of law school, but that she had always wanted to help others. While looking for a work placement, she discovered Memorial, which quickly became the inspiration for her future career.

Memorial-International is a historic NGO created at the dissolution of the Soviet bloc in 1989, to document Soviet oppression, particularly during the Stalinist period. In 1993, another NGO was created: the Human Rights Center “Memorial”, to protect Russian citizens from the current repression.  “The two organizations are friends and exchange information regularly. The Nobel Prize has also been awarded to both branches, in recognition of their past and present work.” 

Tamilla joins Memorial as a trainee lawyer in 2019, on the recommendation of her teachers. She greatly appreciates the work done, far from the strict codes of the university. “I wanted to come back as soon as possible, as soon as I graduated,” she explains playfully into the microphone.

I often say it’s a love affair between me and Memorial,” she jokes. “A love affair that’s been going on for four years!“In her third year, Tamilla joined Memorial as a trainee lawyer, on the recommendation of her teachers. She really enjoyed the work, which was far removed from the strict codes of university life.

Before the invasion of Ukraine, her work consisted of representing citizens in remote regions of the country, for example in cases of domestic violence with her team. Human rights and the defence of civil liberties are the cornerstones of the organization.

In regions like Dagestan, tradition prevails over the law, and she was trying to change that. A genius in her field, she won her first case before the European Court of Human Rights in 2022 concerning domestic violence, a great source of pride for her. 

Most of the time, Russia paid the fines imposed by the ECHR. But sometimes, the Court’s rulings led to new Russian human rights legislation.” Memorial’s cases are often sent to the European Court of Human Rights when Russia denies them justice, which draws the ire of the Kremlin.

Memorial, 2022 Nobel Peace Prize and thorn in the Kremlin’s side

In 2021, the Russian government set its sights on Memorial, which it intended to dissolve thanks to the law on Western influence and foreign agents. Working with a number of European actors, Memorial had been labelled a foreign agent since 2014, when it denounced the conflict in Crimea, and its members, who are still free, still risk imprisonment.

 “In Russia, everything happens legally because the law can quickly be hijacked” by the government. Since this year, you can be labelled as a foreign agent without receiving subsidies from outside. “Anyone could be labelled a foreign agent, whether they worked for an association or not. The simple fact of using Facebook could incriminate you, the law remains very vague”, Tamilla explains.

On 28 and 29 December 2021, the Russian Supreme Court and the Moscow City Court ordered the dissolution of the two Memorial NGOs, the Memorial International and the Memorial Human Rights Centre,  a decision unanimously condemned by the Council of Europe and internationally.

Today, both NGOs had to leave Russian territory, despite the ECHR’s request for the dissolution to be suspended. “We made our fight public on Telegram, Instagram, Twitter and Russian VKontakte, informing the public of our dissolution, but that didn’t stop the government.”

A shocking decision for the Memorial teams, who are nevertheless trying to envisage the future: should the NGO be relocated, or should a new one be set up? Should they defy the ban and continue to work in secret in Russia? Before they could even make a decision, the teams watched in horror as Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine on 24 February 2022.

Very quickly, they started to arrest anyone who criticized the war. It was impossible for human rights NGOs like ours to remain silent“, says Tamilla forcefully. “It was impossible for the Russian people to remain silent. In February and March 2022, not a day went by without citizens demonstrating.”

And even if this protest is less publicized today, demonstrations against the war are still planned in Russia. “So we haven’t changed our stance, and have founded a new one: the Memorial HRDC, Human Rights Defence Center.” For now.

Some of her colleagues decided to leave Russia and operate from abroad, still facing possible legal proceedings. Like Bakhrom Khamroyev, who was sentenced to 14 years in prison in May 2023 for “terrorism and treachery“. His offence? Providing legal advice to an Islamic group,  which the government has classified as terrorist, even though its members have never committed a single act of violence. 

Initiative Marianne, an incubator for all kinds of projects

The co-chairman of Memorial’s, Oleg Orlov, a leading campaigner for rights and freedoms in Russia, had decided to stay put. On 8 June, he was tried for “discrediting the army” in an interview with Mediapart, where he claimed that Russia was now “fascist“.

 After several fines, he now faces imprisonment. “We have covered the first two hearings of the trial, and we are eagerly awaiting the hearing on 21 July“, explains Tamilla, with a determined expression. “We don’t really have any hope, but he’s still very brave and is keeping us on the right track.”

I myself left Russia in April 2022 for Poland, which provided me with a humanitarian visa. This year they have granted me a temporary residence permit, they have been very welcoming.” Other countries such as Brazil and France have granted permanent residence to Tamilla’s colleagues,  allowing her to take some time off work and to participate in the Marianne Initiative

A photo from Marina Merkulova.
Launched in December 2021 by President Emmanuel Macron, the Marianne Initiative for Human Rights Defenders is a three-part program. The first is international, involving support for human rights defenders in their respective countries through the French diplomatic network.

There is also a national component, involving the hosting in France of human rights defenders from all over the world for six months, to enable them to develop their skills and network. Finally, a federative component aims to build an international network of human rights defenders based on French institutions (associative, public, private).

For six months, human rights defenders from all over the world can build and launch their projects in France. This year, thirteen people of various nationalities were honored for their struggles: Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Venezuela, Uganda, Russia, Mali, Bangladesh, Bahrain and Peru.

After welcoming fourteen women last year, it’s now the turn of a mixed class to be welcomed to France as part of the Initiative. Laureates will have access to a training program to strengthen their capacities and commitment in their country of origin or in France, whether in favor of minority rights, freedom of the press and expression, civil and political rights, women’s rights or environmental rights.

Thanks to the program, the winners can develop their association or their work from the French capital, as well as weave a solid network of rights defenders. It’s also a way for France to unite its prizewinners and raise its profile abroad. Since 2022, the Maison des journalistes and the Marianne Initiative have been working together to strengthen exchanges between exiled journalists and human rights defenders around the world.

Come back to Russia to end up in jail

I’m not going back to Russia for the time being, it’s far too dangerous for me. You only have to Google my name to see my actions against the invasion of Ukraine and my positions on human rights.” Positions that could land her in prison, such as her work with Muslim ethnic minorities, which she continues to defend, and her research and legal support for Ukrainians detained on Russian soil.

What I appreciated most about the Marianne Initiative was being able to work not only with 14 people from various nationalities, but also from different fields. It was the first time I had met rights defenders from divergent sectors.” These encounters led to a change in her personal and professional development.

I discovered the work of activists, journalists and politicians who are different from me, but who serve the same cause. We share our work and want to keep in touch with everyone.”

Today, Tamilla would like to extend the Alumni network and meet the class of 2022.I’ve also encouraged two friends to apply for 2024,” she confides with a discreet laugh. “I hope to be able to start mentoring as soon as the program starts in 2024, rather than a few weeks later.”

Thanks to her Polish temporary residence permit, Tamilla is free to move within the Schengen area, which will enable her to continue her work for Memorial and with the UN with greater peace of mind.

A Memorial team is also entirely dedicated to supporting Russians who refuse to be mobilized in Ukraine. Many have been kidnapped and imprisoned, “or brainwashed and promised prison so that they will go to the front“, Tamilla explains.

“We have a Telegram bot where civilians can write to us, and we select our cases. It’s not a very secure system, but many Russians are on Telegram. We also have a hotline that is used a lot.”

We are working with a UN special rapporteur on the situation in Russia, Mariana Katzarova from Bulgaria, to whom we are providing our evidence of abuses of power by the Kremlin. We’re also planning to expand our legal teams,” says Tamilla proudly, undaunted by the sheer volume of work.

Through our work on the invasion, we have even developed solid expertise in Russian military jurisdiction and legislation“, she adds, still smiling. All of which adds up to an extraordinary experience at such a young age, which the Marianne Initiative has honored this year.

Photos credits : © Marina Merkulova

Maud Baheng Daizey

Afghanistan: six premiers mois sanguinaires pour les journalistes

En Afghanistan, 9 journalistes sont morts en 2019

Actualisation de l’article daté du 1er aout 2019

En juillet 2019, 37 cas de violence contre les journalistes en Afghanistan ont été déclarés. 

3 meurtres – 8 blessés – 11 arrestations – 12 menaces et insultes

Ces derniers chiffres montrent une augmentation significative de la violence contre les journalistes afghans dans leur pays. Lors d’une conférence de presse à Kaboul, le comité afghan de sécurité des journalistes souhaite que le gouvernement afghan prenne toutes les mesures possibles pour prévenir la violence contre les journalistes.

Durant ces six premier mois de 2019, l’Afghanistan a perdu au moins six journalistes en six incidents différents. En 2018, l’Afghanistan était déjà le pays le plus meurtrier au monde pour les journalistes. Cette année s’annonce atrocement similaire.

Déjà 35 cas de violence en 2019 contre les journalistes et le personnel des medias enregistrés par Nai Media Institute en Afghanistan. Le décompte ne s’arrête pas là et il est sanglant : six meurtres, six blessures graves, dix-sept  menaces et insultes. Il y a aussi des actions terroristes : trois attaques contre les médias et une explosion à la voiture piégée.  

Ces attentats se pratiquent par vague : les forces de sécurité et médicales accourent pour secourir les journalistes ayant réchappés à l’attentat. C’est le moment choisi pour déclencher une deuxième bombe. Cette scène s’est déroulée à Kaboul l’année dernière : 9 journalistes avaient été tués dans ce double attentat du 30 avril 2018.  

Récemment, les Talibans ont lancé de nouvelles menaces contre les médias en Afghanistan, en demandant l’arrêt immédiat des publicités pro-gouvernement. Être journaliste dans un pays ravagé par la guerre et les luttes intestines représente un danger permanent. Les Talibans et l’Etat Islamique sont responsables des crimes contre les journalistes et ceux qui accompagnent les journalistes. Les Talibans ont décidé que les journalistes afghans étaient dorénavant leur cible privilégié.


Afghan Journalist Javid Noori

Javid Noori est le premier journaliste tué dans le monde en 2019. C’était le 5 janvier. Voyageant dans un bus, il a été tué lors d’un barrage routier à Frarah, une province dans l’ouest du pays où il travaillait pour Neshat Radio, une radio locale. Javid Noori avait 27 ans.


Local journalists Shafiqullah Arya and Rahimullah Rahmani

En février, deux autres journalistes sont tués par balle dans Takhar, une province dans le nord de l’Afghanistan.

Shafiqullah Arya et Rahimullah Rahmani ont été tués par deux inconnus qui sont entrés dans les bureaux de Radio Hamsada, une station de radio basée en Taloqan, ville située dans le nord ouest de l’Afghanistan. Comble de l’horreur, ils ont étés tués lors de leur émission, pendant qu’ils étaient en direct à la radio.


View of Sultan Mahmood Khairkhwas tomb in Southern Khost province of Afghanistan

Sultan Mahmood Khairkwa, journaliste afghan pour Zhman TV est mort des complications après qu’il est reçu une balle dans la tête par des hommes armés se revendiquant de l’Etat Islamique.

Un autre journaliste est mort ce même mois de mars, il s’agit de Nisar Ahmad Ahmadi. Journaliste afghan, il voulait se rendre à son travail en prenant sa voiture. Mais sa voiture a explosé, piégée par une bombe. Cette fois-ci, c’était dans le sud de l’Aafghanistan. Nisar Ahmad Ahmadi travaillait avec  la chaine de télévison  Sabawoon.


Cette fois-ci, un homme armée a attaqué le radio journaliste, Imran Lemar. Lemar travaillait pour Mazal radio. Il a été blessé par balle par un homme armé inconnu dans la grande ville de l’est, Jalalabad, le 25 avril.

Ce même mois d’avril, le rédacteur en chef du média 1TV, Abdullah Khanjani, était frappé ou plutôt battu par les gardes du corps de la protection présidentielle. Cet événement s’est passé à Kaboul, la capitale.


Meena Mangal presenting TV show in local TV in Kabul

Contrairement à une idée reçue, de nombreuses femmes sont journalistes en Afghanistan. Elles ne sont pas épargnées.

C’est le cas de Meena Mangal, tuée à Kaboul alors qu’elle se rendait à son travail. Sa famille a imploré le gouvernement de mettre en place une enquête pour retrouver les assassins.

Loin de la violence, Meena Mangal était amatrice de poèsie, voici son ultime poème. 

Les chefs d’Etat du monde entier, dont le canadien Justin Trudeau, ont demandé qu’on se souvienne de Meena Mangal come une journaliste à l’intégrité totale qui s’est battue toute sa vie pour les droits des femmes d’Afghanistan, quelle que soit leur âge. 

Meena Mangal travaillait à Tolo TV, le plus grand diffuseur privé d’Afghanistan, mais aussi pour d’autres médias. Elle était aussi conseillère culturelle à la chambre basse du parlement national d’Afghanistan.


AFJC Shaki Baluch

Selon les médias afghans, le journaliste Shaki Baluch a été tué au Zabul, la province du sud d’Afghanistan, par des hommes armés. De plus, 7 employés de Shamshad TV ont été blessés dans une attaque.  

Si ce début d’année sanglant pour les journalistes afghans ne choque plus l’opinion mondiale, l’appel des insurgés à tuer le plus possible de journaliste devrait attirer l’attention. Mais attention à ne pas oublier les nombreux blessés. Entre les enlèvements, les passages à tabac, les insultes, les humiliations et les blessures volontaires, être journaliste en Afghanistan c’est vivre dans la peur permanente. 

De plus, nous pouvons constaté que les crimes contres ces journalistes sont dans l’ensemble du pays et non pas circonscit à une ou deux régions. 

Pourtant, le gouvernement a pris des engagements répétés pour assurer la protection des journalistes. En 2018, avec 15 journalistes tués, l’Afghanistan était reconnu comme le pays le plus meurtrier pour les journalistes dans le monde. 2019 repart sur les mêmes bases.

Afghanistan: another deadly Year for Journalists in 2019

Within the first six months of 2019, Afghanistan has lost six of its journalists in separate incidents, the first death of a journalist was recorded by RSF in Afghanistan this year.

35 cases of violence against journalists and media staff were recorded by Nai, supporting open media in Afghanistan which includes 5 cases of murder, 6 injuries, 17 cases of threats and insults, 3 cases of attacks on media, 3 cases of beating, and 1 case of IED explosion.

Unfortunately, murder cases are just the most extreme violences against journalists but other violences remain prevalent including: kidnapping, beating, injuring, insulting and humiliating journalists.

Recently the Taliban terrorist group issued new threats to media outlets in Afghanistan, demanding an immediate halt to publications of pro-government advertisements.

Working as a journalist in war-torn Afghanistan is not easy and safety is an increasing concern for journalists around the country.

The Taliban and Islamic State (ISIS) were involved in crimes against humanity and are the most responsible for the attacks on journalists and media staff in Afghanistan. They targeted journalists, aimed to silence press freedom and incite fear among the people.


Afghan Journalist Javid Noori

Javid Noori was the first journalist in the world killed in Afghanistan by Taliban fighters on January 5th, 2019.

He was killed when the Taliban searched a bus he was on at a roadblock in the western Frarah province of Afghanistan. Only 27 years old, Javid Noori worked for Neshat Radio in the western Farah province of Afghanistan.


Local journalists Shafiqullah Arya and Rahimullah Rahmani

In February, two other radio journalists were shot and killed in the northern Takhar province of Afghanistan.

Shafiqullah Arya and Rahimullah Rahmani were shot and killed by two unidentified men who entered Radio Hamsada’s office, a local radio station based in Taloqan city in northeastern Afghanistan. They were killed during a live program.


View of Sultan Mahmood Khairkhwas tomb in Southern Khost province of Afghanistan

Sultan Mahmood Khairkhwa, local Afghan journalist of Zhman TV died from complications after being shot in head by ISIS gunmen in the southern Khost city of Afghanistan on March 15th.

More violence against journalists this month was seriously wounded Nisar Ahmad Ahmadi. Ahmadi the local Afghan journalist was on his way to his office when an IED bomb that was embedded in his car, detonated in Lashkargah city of Helmand province in southwestern Afghanistan.

He worked with Helmand based Sabawoon TV in Afghanistan.


More bad news for journalists this month, a gunmen attacked radio journalist, Imran Lemar. Lemar worked at Mazal radio and was shot & injured by an unknown gunman in the eastern Jalalabad city of Afghanistan on April 25th.

Also in April, the 1TV Editor-in-Chief, Abdullah Khenjani was beaten by a presidential protection guard in Kabul city.


Meena Mangal presenting TV show in local TV in Kabul

Tragic news in May for the family of female Afghan journalist, Meena Mangal who was shot dead Kabul, the capital city by unknown gunmen.

Meena Mangal was shot dead in public on May 11th while she was on her way to work in Kabul. Her family wants justice from the government.

Leaders from around the world like Justin Trudeau commended Meena Mangal’s journalistic integrity and her advocacy for women and girls while condemning the violence that ended her life.

She worked at Tolo TV, the largest private broadcaster in Afghanistan, as well as Shamshad and Lemar television stations.

She had also recently become a cultural adviser to the lower chamber of Afghanistan’s national parliament.


AFJC Shaki Baluch

According to the Afghan media, Shaki Baluch, a local journalist of National broadcaster (RTA) killed in southern Zabul province of Afghanistan by unknown gunmen in the month of July and also seven employees of local Shamshad TV stations were wounded in an attack in the capital of the country.

Moreover, recently Taliban insurgents issued new threats against Afghan media which sparks Global Reaction. Unfortunately, murder cases are just the most extreme violences against journalists but other violences remain prevalent including: kidnapping, beating, injuring, insulting and humiliating journalists.

The Afghan government has made repeated commitments to ensure the protection of journalists and journalistic protection institutions have repeatedly asked the government to protect journalists. But challenges remain for journalist’s safety today. RSF recognized Afghanistan as the deadliest country for journalists in the world. 15 journalists were killed in 2018.

Impacts and Revelations from Disclose’s Investigative Journalists Regarding the Sale of French Arms to Saudi Arabia

On Tuesday May 28th at 7:30, there was a conference broadcast over Facebook Live at “Le Grand Bréguet”, a Parisian bar to explain what happened during the explosive investigation “Made in France”. On April 15th, Disclose (a French NGO for investigative journalism) published an investigation that exposed the problem of selling french arms to Saudi Arabia.

Following this investigation, on May 14th, Geoffrey Livolsi and Mathias Destal were summoned by the DSGI (General Direction of Internal Security) – France’s internal intelligence service and judicial police of the French Ministry charged with maintaining national security.

Both journalistes were suspected of compromising national defense secrets by publishing a “confidential defense” report. A total of eight journalists from this affair were summoned by the DGSI.

Disclose accepts their decision to investigate the selling of French armes to Saudi Arabia and claims responsibility for this type of investigative journalism. Disclose is a french non-profit investigative media for general interests launched on November 6, 2018.

During the facebook live, Mathias Destal, one of its cofounders started by discussing the relevance of “Made in France” for its first investigation. The investigations concerns the selling of French arms to Saudi Arabia which will be used in the war against Yemen. Geographically, the conflict’s victims are situated thousands of miles from France.

In fact, due to the information hierarchy, information about places far from France spark less interest within the general public who are either not concered or minimally concerned about this selling of arms.

The international organizations know the truth about these arms being sold, but this knowledge was conditional and lacked evidence” confirms one of Disclose’s cofounders. This selling of arms, supported for months by NGO’s like Amnesty International was finally proven. Disclose started their investigation after leaked documents, classified as a “Confidential Denfense” report, drafted by the DRM (Direction of Military Reassingment) in September 2018 were brought to their attention. (The DRM is a French Intelligence Agency that collects and centralizes military intelligence information for the French Armed Forces).

This was the first time that an official authority confirmed the suspicions of the NGOs. It was out of the question for Disclose’s cofounders and journalistes to disregard information that can be classified as general interest. Without knowing if the investigation would explode in French Society, the journalists had been working for many months in order to cross-check all the nessicery information to prove that this was happening.

Disclose’s motivation in this investigation was to inform the public at large about the truths omitted by the executive powers.

The goal is to inform the public at large about the truths that were omitted by exectutive powers.” For Michel Despratx, a journalist in this investigation, it was “a great time to put an end to the substantial debate between the NGOs and the French government” regarding the selling of arms. However, spreading documents classified as “Confidential Defense”, is classified as an criminal offense punishable on average with 5 years of prison and a 75,000 euros fine for each person involved.

Journalists have a professional framework: the law regarding Freedom of the Press from 1881 that that needs to be acklowledged. On the other hand, they are also protected by their status as journalistes and their need to inform the public when the investigation sparked public interest. Despite all this, the government strongly reacted, and many summons were given by the DGSI.

Benoit Collombat, one of Disclose’s journalists testifies “DGSI wanted my sources, they asked me questions about how we work.” According to them, the message behind the convictions is “Stop your interests in these subjects!” For him, it is a kind of intimidation that does not scare him and will not stop him from contining to do his job and to inform the public.

Virginie Marquet, a lawyer for the Disclose journalists in this affair confirms that the framework from the 1881 law is not without fault and divulging documents classified as “confidential defense” is a new criminal offense. This framework is not protective enough for journalists.

A journalist’s mission is to inform, fundamental liberty and they must be protected in the professional framework of this important mission for all of the citizens. The freedom of information and expression makes our society a democracy. Journalists should benefit from protection given to their work that is, in the end, a social mission.

The status of journalists is challenged

In some court meetings held by the DGSI, there was no reference to their quality of their journalism. The journalists were summoned as their personal titles, meaning their status as a journalist would be disregarded in these meetings and they would be considered ordinary citizens who had committed these offenses, thus separating their identities.

This was established with the goal of obtaining as much information as possible. “The fact that they are heard as a witness, for example, gives them less rights” Virginie Marquet confirms.

Michel Despratx did not answer any of the 30 questions asked by the assembly invoking each time, the protection of his sources. Pressure is exerted on the government Benoit Collombat confirms that these court meetings are “a way of delegitimizing the subject” which had a considerable impact in France. Contrary to what was expected, the public was very interested in this affair.

The population was aware of this problem and exerted pressure on the government. According to Disclose, at the assembly, politicians discussed that concrete actions were organized like blockades and protests against loading “Cesaers le 7” (french arms) on May 7th. These actions prove the impact of the investigation. In effect, on May 7th, 2019, a Saudi Arabian cargo ship, Bahri Yanbu, arrived at the French port in Havre so that the French armes could be shipped to Saudi Arabia. The NGO’s ASER and ACAT blocked the loading of the cargo thanks to emergency intervention.

Le comité d’éthique des médias: un rempart à la liberté?

Dans le cadre des 12ème assises internationales du Journalisme de Tours, le collectif #Payetoiunjournaliste a proposé de donner la parole aux citoyens sur la question des médias avec la création d’un comité d’éthique. Avec une telle instance, certains journalistes craignent que leur liberté d’exercer soit menacée.

Un comité d’éthique, comment ça marche ?

Le comité d’éthique est un organe professionnel d’autorégulation composé de représentants des journalistes, des éditeurs et du public. Cette composition peut changer d’un pays à l’autre. En Italie, on y trouve uniquement des journalistes ; en Ukraine, des journalistes et du public ; en Grande-Bretagne, des éditeurs et du public ou encore en Allemagne où sont regroupés journalistes et éditeurs.

Aucun représentant des pouvoirs exécutif, judiciaire ou législatif ne participe au conseil puisqu’il est totalement indépendant de l’Etat et de la politique.

Ces professionnels et non-professionnels se saisissent des plaintes et revendications de lecteurs, d’auditeurs, de téléspectateurs, d’internautes. Ils émettent un avis après enquête contradictoire, sur la base de la déontologie journalistique. Cet avis est par la suite rendu public.

Les décisions favorables au plaignant sont parfois accompagnées d’un blâme à l’intention du journaliste et/ou du média. Le comité d’éthique condamne tout ce qui n’est pas passible de sanctions au tribunal. On note notamment la réprobation des publicités déguisées en articles, des “ménages” (animations de débats rémunérés au sein d’une entreprise ou organisation), des bidonnages comme la fausse interview de Fidel Castro par Patrick Poivre d’Arvor, des conflits d’intérêts ou encore des atteintes à la vie privée.

Copyright Dessin-Schwartz pour la SNJ

Et ailleurs en Europe ?

Depuis 1950, de nombreux pays se sont dotés d’un conseil de presse appelé aussi conseil de déontologie des médias ou comité d’éthique. On en compte aujourd’hui une centaine dans le monde.

La majorité des pays européens, une vingtaine, dont la Grande-Bretagne, l’Allemagne, la Suède, la Belgique, ont créé ces instances. En France, l’idée revient périodiquement d’instaurer un conseil de déontologie du journalisme.

La France est-elle en retard par rapport à ses voisins européens ?

Depuis les prémices du mouvement des Gilets Jaunes, la défiance de la population vis-à-vis des médias n’a jamais été aussi forte.

Un contexte qui amène à réfléchir à l’éventualité de créer un conseil de presse français. Certains y voient l’occasion de s’interroger sur la profession.

Copyright L’Express – 1964 – janvier

Le 15 mars, aux Assises du Journalisme, le ministre de la Culture Franck Riester a affirmé qu’il faut “retisser le lien entre les Français et les médias”.

Il existe déjà en France des comités d’éthiques spécifiques pour certains groupes de médias. Radio France, Le Monde ou encore France Télévisions disposent d’une chartre de déontologie et d’un conseil de presse à leur échelle.

Pierre Ganz, vice-président de l’Observatoire de la déontologie de l’information, durant les Assises de Tours note que “si tous les médias acceptent que leur travail soit examiné par un organisme indépendant, ce serait un outil qui permettrait de regagner la confiance du public.”

Il faut “retisser le lien entre les Français et les médias“.

Franck Riester, ministre de la Culture

Favorable à la création d’une telle instance, il est rejoint sur ce point par le SNJ (Syndicat Nationale des Journalistes).

Dans ses dix engagements, le syndicat national des journalistes note: “Le SNJ appelle [de ses vœux] la création d’une instance de déontologie paritaire et même tripartite, associant des représentants des salariés, des employeurs et du public.”

Je propose qu’il existe un tribunal professionnel qui puisse être saisi et qui ait le pouvoir de sanction symbolique contre les menteurs, les tricheurs, les enfumeurs. Je vais donc lancer avec mes amis une pétition en ce sens.”

Ce sont les propos tenus par Jean-Luc Mélenchon suite à son passage dans l’Emission Politique sur France 2. En décembre 2017, au cours de sa campagne présidentielle, Jean-Luc Mélenchon relance l’idée d’une instance d’auto régulation en lançant une pétition plaidant pour la création d’un “conseil de déontologie du journalisme”.

Le chef de fil de la France Insoumise avait déclaré sur son blog que “la haine des médias et de ceux qui les animent est juste et saine”.

Devenu l’ex ministre de la culture, Françoise Nyssen (mai 2017 à octobre 2018) qui était alors en poste, est allée dans le sens de Jean-Luc Mélenchon en annonçant le lancement d’une mission sur la déontologie de la presse.

Un conseil qui, en cas de création prochaine, aura à sa tête l’ancien PDG de l’AFP et de l’INA Emmanuel Hoog.

Les inconvénients du comité d’éthique

Une limite commune à la majorité des comités d’éthique concerne la justice.

En effet, sur le plan juridique, le Conseil de Presse est une association à but non lucratif. Lorsque ce dernier diffuse un blâme, il ne dispose d’aucune immunité. Il risque donc de devoir répondre de ses propos devant les tribunaux. En d’autres termes, le journaliste ayant reçu un blâme peut se retourner contre le comité de presse et l’astreindre devant les tribunaux.

Ceux-ci auront à déterminer si les évaluations, jugements et opinions exprimés par le Conseil ont ou non pas, un caractère fautif au regard de la loi.

Outre les limites juridiques constatées, certains journalistes expriment leurs craintes face à une forme de censure de la presse. Selon le SPIIL, le syndicat de la presse indépendante d’information en ligne, cette idée n’arrive pas au bon moment, le contexte politique étant bien trop défavorable.

copyright Plantu – Le Monde

Sur son site internet, le syndicat déclare qu’il “n’appartient pas à l’État de susciter la création d’une instance d’autorégulation de la presse. Un Conseil né sous de tels auspices n’aura jamais la légitimité nécessaire. Seule une réflexion sereine issue de la profession elle-même et non du pouvoir politique permettrait d’envisager les contours d’un Conseil de déontologie ambitieux.

Pour le directeur de la rédaction d’OWNI, Guillaume Dasquié, la création d’un organe auto-régulateur n’est pas envisageable puisque le journalisme est “un milieu qui vit grâce à ses conflits, petits et grands. […] Les métiers de la presse se nourrissent de diversités mais aussi de divergences, d’antagonismes, voire de rapports concurrentiels animés.”

Il n’est donc pas concevable selon Guillaume Dasquié de créer une instance régulant la moindre discorde dans le but de lisser le paysage médiatique.


Il n’existe pas d’instance nationale contrôlant l’éthique des journalistes. Le 16 juillet 2014, une proposition de loi présentée par Jean-François Mancel allant en ce sens n’avait finalement pas vu le jour.

Dans cette proposition, le député UMP s’inspire en grande partie du projet du Conseil de déontologie journalistique de la Belgique francophone. Il explique que les Français ne comprennent pas qu’une corporation aussi puissante que le journalisme ne soit pas encadrée par un conseil indépendant.

En 2014, le fossé entre médias et citoyens se veut important ; la communication entre les deux parties est au bord de la rupture.

Le député rapporte “que 77 % des Français ne font pas confiance aux médias“. Composée de 8 articles, cette proposition n’a finalement pas convaincu les résistants comme Olivier Da Lage, journaliste à RFI. Il reproche au député de vouloir “inventer l’ordre des journalistes” et “mettre sous tutelle” la profession.

A ce jour, un comité d’éthique est en passe d’être créé en France. Jeudi 16 mai s’est tenu à Vanves une réunion entre éditeurs, journalistes et représentants du public pour poser les bases d’un futur conseil de médiation et de déontologie journalistique. L’objectif ? Que cette instance voit le jour d’ici la fin de l’année 2019.

Nouvelle avancée sur ce “Conseil de l’ordre des journalistes”. Cédric O, secrétaire d’Etat au Numérique, invite les journalistes à s’organiser pour lutter contre les fausses nouvelles et la désinformation, faute de quoi c’est l’Etat qui s’en chargera. Interview par Reuters le 20 juin 2019

The State of the Press in Egypt: a Fallen Champion

Ranked 161st in the World Press Freedom Index 2018 from Reporters Without Borders, contemporary Egypt is characterized by a rapid deterioration in press freedom, subject to severe censorship and draconian state control.

Though Egypt is the source of the spread of the printing press in the Arab world, successive governments have progressively limited freedom of expression up until today, in which one wonders what remains of a space for independant, critical, and free media coverage.

The press in Egypt: on the rise in the 19th century

It is difficult to imagine that what has become a prison for journalists was once an important place for breaking news and broadcasting in the Arab world.

Returning to the era of Napoleon’s campaign in Egypt, the printing press rapidly developed throughout the 19th century, with the emergence of outstanding newspapers circulating the streets of Cairo.

Notably, Al-Ahram, founded in 1875, proved itself as one of the country’s most read papers. Today, Al-Ahram is a major point of reference for many daily newspapers in the country.However, the variety of Egyptian media does not reflect diversity in its content.

In reality, media publishing has been standardized to the point of becoming a mere reflection of the inescapable discourse imposed by the state.

How does the Egyptian State censor the freedom to inform?

Observing the current media landscape illustrates this lack of freedom of expression and information in today’s Egypt.

The process of restructuring the media through a systematic transfer of ownership is indicative of what Reporters Without Borders calls the “Sisyphication of the media.”

In this respect, the Media Ownership Monitor launched by Reporters Without Borders in Egypt is highly informative. The survey of structures, relationships and key actors that control the Egyptian media not only reveals the state’s pervasive presence in broadcasting, but also denounces the intervention of security and intelligence services.

This is the case of the broadcasting and satellite television sector dominated by The Egyptian Media Group, which is indirectly controlled by the secret service. Similarly, the printing sector is either concentrated around well-known state-owned enterprises, such as the Al-Ahram Establishment, or linked to private institutions owned by wealthy businessmen loyal to the regime.

Unsurprisingly, in this context of total state control, independent media and journalists are running a higher and higher risk. In addition to banning hundreds of websites, prison seems to be the regime’s preferred instrument for silencing disagreeing voices.

According to a study conducted by Reporters Without Borders in early 2019, at least 32 journalists have been arrested on charges of “threatening national security” or “defamation”.

Their profiles suggest that all journalists working independently or on sensitive topics are almost certainly destined for prison. This is the case of Mahmoud Abu Zeid, better known as Shawkan, a photographer who specializes in recording the violent repression of the Muslim Brotherhood, or Mohammed al Husseini Hassan, a journalist investigating current inflation in Egypt. The list could go on and on…

Yet this extreme state control is not limited to eliminating freedom of expression in journalism.

A repression of all forms if the freedom to inform

The repression is so widespread that it can affect all areas. Not only activists, but also poets, singers, artists, researchers, writers and bloggers can all potentially fall into the category of people who pose a threat to national security.

As a result, freedom of expression poses a very high risk under what the Deputy Director of the Project on Democracy in the Middle East (POMED), Andrew Miller, called “the most repressive government in modern Egyptian history.”

Local and international human rights organizations relentlessly denounce the practices of the Egyptian authorities that are aimed at suppressing peaceful dissent. Because of this dedicated work, they face serious threats. Among other things, POMED refers to the case of certain human rights defenders of notable NGOs, such as the Cairo Institute for the Study of Human Rights (CNCDH), the Arab Network for Information on Human Rights human rights (ANHRI), the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF) and the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), accused in a lawsuit “of offending the Egyptian state, of threatening the national security and of harming the country’s interests”.

Once again, fundamental human rights such as freedom of expression and information are flagrantly violated under the current state of emergency in the name of the fight against terrorism and national security.

Censorship, danger and prison are key words that come to mind when one thinks about journalism in Egypt.

In a country where journalism has become a crime, as the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy reports, freedom of expression and information may become mere abstract concepts in people’s minds. This is an alarming scenario that erases even the last traces of Egypt’s distinguished past as champion of the advancement of the press and information in the Arab world.

Zoom: being a journalist in contemporary Egypt

In examining the general situation of freedom of expression and information in contemporary Egypt, it is natural to wonder what journalistic work might look like in this difficult context.

We asked Yahia Dabbous, an Egyptian student currently studying at Sciences Po School of International Business, to describe his experience as an editor of the online paper Egypt Independent.

His testimony emphasizes not only the severe control exercised by the state over the published content, but also the resulting instinctive tendency of self-censorship.

In a context where any subject can be extremely sensitive, the question of what is allowed and not allowed becomes an all-consuming thought. As a result, the journalist’s pen travels preferably within these imposed (or self-imposed) limits, leaving little or no room for the journalist’s own analysis, accuracy and creativity.

Yahia gives us several examples to illustrate the difficulty of writing and publishing articles in today’s Egypt.

Notably, in the days leading up to the presidential election of 2018, reporting news of the various arrests and withdrawals of potential candidates against President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi proved to be a delicate task.

For information only, the article would mention such an event; for security reasons, it would only quote the official statement, with no subsequent comments.

As Yahia describes his experience, and new facets of the profession of journalism in Egypt emerge. Among other things, the economic aspect presents itself as an urgent challenge for journalists.

Yahia recalls several colleagues who had to work two jobs to earn enough. According to Yahia, a journalist’s salary can not guarantee enough resources, especially to support a family. While journalism in today’s Egypt is clearly a risky and not very rewarding profession at various levels, Yahia’s story also highlights the ethical issues that journalists face when working for newspaper.

Media coverage of the story of Mahmoud Abu Zeid, a journalist selected for the UNESCO Press Freedom Prize and imprisoned for covering the 2013 Rabaa event, is an example of such a challenge.

The national press mainly broadcast the official narrative around a journalist described as “terrorist” and “criminal” by the regime. Knowing Mahmoud Abu Zeid personally, his story, and his work, Yahia and other editors refused to publish such an article and were faced with the only alternative: to leave the paper.

Thus ended prematurely Yahia’s experience as an editor of Egypt Independent. Yahia’s story reflects our understanding of the implications of this drastic state control on the media.

What may sometimes appear as the abstract concept of freedom of expression is rather a primordial human right whose impact on society and individuals has never been more concrete. 

The state of the press in Afghanistan: the country where journalists die the most

In the first two months of 2019, the Afghan Media Community lost three of its members in two successive incidents. Javid Noori, a radio journalist, was executed by the Taliban on January 5, 2019 in the western province of Farah. The second attack targeted the premises of a radio station in the northeast of the country and caused the deaths of two journalists, Shafiq Aria and Rahimullah Rahmani. On the heels of 2018, the year 2019 in Afghanistan is already announced as one of the most deadly for practicing journalists.

In 2018, Reporters Without Borders ranked Afghanistan as the worst country in the world for journalists, with the assassination of 15 news professionals in one year. The NGO Nai SOMA -Supporting Open Media in Afghanistan- recorded in 2019 a number of violent acts committed against the press in the country, from the killing of these three journalists, to the armed attacks against editorial staff, including radio stations in the provinces and Taliban threats against two journalists in the south of the country, as well as the incessant insults that all professionals deal with every day.

An Afghan policy for the diversity of the press

Since the fall of the Taliban in 2001 and the media law passed by the Afghan Parliament in its wake, media growth has been exponential.

Afghanistan is the birthplace of more than 500 newspapers, 76 TV channels, nearly 150 radio stations and numerous news agencies. There is momentum towards plurality, thanks to the success of the government, but journalists today pay a high price.

Omnipresent insecurity

Working as a journalist in war-torn Afghanistan is not easy and security is a major issue for all professionals in the country.

According to the Ministry of Defense, there are about 20 regional and international terrorist groups operating in Afghanistan, the result of a 40-year war that has hit the population and journalists hard. The number of acts of violence against the profession have been steadily increasing since 2014 and since the withdrawal of foreign troops.

196 cases of violence were recorded in 2018 by Nai SOMA, including killings, beatings, violent injuries, insults, repeated arrests, kidnapping, attacks on editors and reduction of news sources.

A double bombing on the streets of Kabul on April 30, 2018 resulted in the death of nine journalists, including Sha Marai Fezi, an AFP correspondent photographer, and six reporters from Radio Free Europe and Tolo News, making it the worst attack in the world against the press since 2009.

Who is behind the violence against journalists?

Committees for the protection of journalists emphasize the responsibility of the Afghan government for the ongoing insecurity of journalists in the field.

Insurgent groups

The Taliban and ISIS, directly involved in crimes against humanity, are primarily responsible for attacking news professionals in Afghanistan, targeting journalists in order to silence the country’s press.

The April 2018 bombing of nine journalists and the assassination of seven members of the TOLO TV team in Kabul in 2016 are just some examples of the violence of these Taliban groups against the profession of journalism.

The attack perpetrated in November 2017 on the building of the TV channel Shamshad TV is an illustration of the war carried out by ISIS.

Afghan officials, security forces and militants

Afghan journalists and reporters who publish investigations and articles that are critical of the government also face threats and violence from the representatives of the Afghan public authorities.

According to the NAI SOMA, the government and its officials are responsible for about 62 cases of violence against press professionals.

The last obstacle to freedom of the press in the country: the barons of war and their permanent intimidation against any author of articles harmful to their business.


Many media professionals have practiced self-censorship as a pledge of survival; The government and other perpetrators of journalists’ rights violations play a key role in increasing the pressure on the shoulders of “those who wish to speak,” and maintain the vicious circle of self-censorship.

The imbalance between security and self-censorship of the journalist is particularly noticeable in the treatment of subjects related to drugs, the activities of terrorist groups and other types of illegal traffic.

© Helmand Media office

The precarity of Afghan journalists

While the perception of their profession can appear rather positive to Afghan journalists thanks to the types of contracts that are satisfactory for many of them (according to the internal reports) and clearly defined compensation, many abuses and a certain precariousness have been deplored by many professionals.

The pressure exercised by the press bosses on their employees is commonplace and feeds on the legal vagueness that covers many contracts. Legal remedies are very often prevented, a situation that makes it even more difficult for journalists to work calmly. Many journalists and reporters based in Afghanistan have faced unfair dismissals from their bosses.

Financial dependence of the Afghan media

Independence of the media in Afghanistan is made impossible by the dependency that binds them to aid from abroad, which come from certain national opposition parties or are even instrumentalized by foreign powers.

The “donor” often matches their funding with an agenda of topics to be addressed by the recipient newspaper, thus serving their own interests over those of the general public. Media outlets with financial difficulties must dismiss their teams or are forced to close their editorial staff.

The exile of journalists

According to the NAI SOMA more than 300 journalists fled Afghanistan for Europe in 2015 following the violence on the ground. There are departures of media professionals in groups of 15 or 20 accompanied by their families.

The violence of exile adds to all of the violence that has come before. In 2016, photojournalist Feroz Muzafar and his family were killed off the coast of Turkey with one last hope of reaching Europe, adding to the total number of Afghan journalists who have died for their jobs.