Index on Censorship is bidding to raise £15,000 by the end of this month to map attacks against freedom of expression and demand governments do more to stop them. The plea follows the death of journalist Jan Kuciak, and his partner Martina Kušnírová, who had been investigating the Italian mafia in Slovakia.
David Aaronovitch, chair of Index on Censorship, sent an email asking members to contribute towards its goal of raising at least £15,000 so it could continue to make the argument for free speech and expression "effectively", warning there would be "challenging times ahead".
The British journalist, broadcaster and author said he had been "naïve" when he first became chair of the organisation, believing the case for freedom of expression was "largely a fought and won battle". Since stepping into the role he said he has observed "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".
Commenting on the death of Kuciak, a journalist who was shot dead with his fiancée last week after investigating links between organised crime and politics, Aaronovitch said: "This happened not in a war zone, not in a dictatorship, but in Slovakia: an EU member state."
The money fundraised by the non-profit will go towards ensuring verified attacks against media freedom are mapped publicly online over the next six months. The monitoring project is being conducted by Index on Censorship in partnership with the European Federation of Journalists and aims to map the state of media freedom by crowdsourcing reports from journalists and press freedom watchdogs, among others.
The funds will also facilitate official reports of attacks to pressure governments and support extensive fieldwork to identify and confirm reported violations.