RSF Launches ‘50-day Clock’ And Petition Calling For Press Freedom Improvements Ahead Of G20 Summit

On the second anniversary of the assassination of Saudi
columnist Jamal Khashoggi, and with 50 days left until the
November 2020 G20 summit in Riyadh, Reporters Without
Borders (RSF) has launched a ‘50-day clock’ and petition
urging G20 capitals to obtain concrete press freedom
improvements in Saudi Arabia – starting with the release of
the country’s 34 jailed journalists.

From November
21 to 22, Saudi Arabia is set to host the G20 summit
virtually from Riyadh, despite holding one of the world’s
worst records on press freedom. RSF has launched a petition
calling on G20 capitals to hold the Saudi government to
account and act to obtain concrete press freedom
improvements in Saudi Arabia in the 50 days left until the
summit.

Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s most
prolific jailers of journalists, with 34
journalists
currently languishing behind bars in
connection with their work. Many of these journalists have
been mistreated in detention. RSF has consistently
campaigned for their release, and raised their cases
directly with the Saudi government in an unprecedented
press freedom mission
to the country in April
2019.

This is in addition to continued impunity for
the horrific murder of Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi
inside the Consulate of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul on October
2, 2018. A closed
trial
with no public or media present reportedly
resulted in the sentencing of eight unidentified defendants
to prison sentences and the acquittal of three others –
falling far short of international standards. No independent
international investigation has taken
place.

“Without addressing these serious
ongoing violations in Saudi Arabia, G20 members risk
severely damaging their own reputations. But we believe the
Riyadh summit could instead present an opportunity to secure
concrete improvements. We call on G20 capitals – from London
to Berlin – to urge the Saudi government to release the
country’s 34 jailed journalists and begin to turn their
dire press freedom record around,” said RSF general
secretary Christophe Deloire.

The Saudi
government has stated that the three main aims of the 2020
G20 presidency are “empowering people,” safeguarding the
planet,” and “shaping new frontiers.” But these goals
cannot be achieved if G20 members and, in particular, the
state holding the presidency, do not respect their
international press freedom obligations.

A ‘50-day
clock’ on RSF’s homepage will count down the days
remaining until the start of the 21-22 November Riyadh
summit, setting a deadline for G20 states to secure press
freedom improvements in Saudi Arabia. On the eve of the
summit, RSF will deliver the petition to authorities in key
G20 capitals.

Saudi Arabia is ranked 170th out of 180
countries in RSF’s 2020
World Press Freedom
Index
.

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