On May 3, 2021, the annual observance of World Press Freedom Day, the One Free Press Coalition launched the monthly list of “10 Most Urgent” press freedom cases around the world. This iteration focuses on journalists writing about human rights—an especially dangerous beat. Of journalists imprisoned in 2020, 55% covered human rights, and 306 journalists reporting on human rights have been killed since 1992.
Human rights stories—such as attacks on minority communities, anti-government protests, environmental degradation, and LGBT rights, among many others—have all proven to be dangerous stories for the journalists on the list this month. CPJ and IWMF applaud the courage of all journalists, and continue to provide safety resources and support to ensure they can do their job as safely as possible.
1. Ibraimo Abú Mbaruco (Mozambique)
Mozambican radio reporter and human rights advocate in Cabo Delgado has been missing for over a year as conflict in the region escalates. Family and colleagues still have no information on his whereabouts after he sent an SOS text saying he was “surrounded by soldiers.”
2. Kasra Nouri (Iran)
Journalist, serving a 12-year sentence related to his coverage of religious protests in 2018, has spent a significant amount of time in solitary confinement, been moved multiple times, and his family is currently unable to communicate with him.
3. Pham Chi Dung (Vietnam)
Freelance internet reporter and founding chairman of a civil society organization advocating for press freedom is serving a 15-year prison sentence on anti-state charges after calling on the EU to postpone trade agreements until Vietnam improves its human rights record.
4. Ahmed Humaidan (Bahrain)
Photographer covering protests in Bahrain was arrested while documenting protesters attacking a police station in 2012, and sentenced to ten years behind bars in 2014. He recently contracted and recovered from COVID-19 while imprisoned.
5. Esraa Abdelfattah (Egypt)
Longtime blogger, journalist and activist reporting on human rights has been held on false news and anti-state charges since 2019, and has had her pretrial detention extended. She has gone on hunger strikes multiple times to protest her sentence and treatment.
6. Leonardo Sakamoto and the team at Repórter Brasil (Brazil)
Leonardo Sakamoto is the president of Repórter Brasil, an investigative reporting organization, focused on issues from human trafficking to workers’ rights to environmental degradation. The outlet has faced online attacks, attempted break-ins and anonymous threats.
7. Sandhya Ravishankar (India)
Freelance journalist reporting on elections, politics and corruption, including on Tamil Nadu’s sand mafia and beach sand mining, has faced years of threats and harassment, including death and rape threats, doxing, and a 2018 attempt to sabotage her motorbike.
8. Agnieszka Pikulicka (Uzbekistan)
Freelance correspondent threatened publicly by Uzbek Interior Ministry with potential lawsuits in relation to her reporting on the attack of an LGBTQ activist.
9. Katsiaryna Barysevich (Belarus)
Correspondent for the independent news website Tut.by was sentenced earlier this year to six months behind bars for her coverage of protests in Belarus in 2020.
10. Daria Komarova (Russia)
Russian journalist for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has been put on three trials in relation to her coverage of pro-Navalny protests, facing potential fines and administrative detention.