The most reported type of attack in the Case List is lengthy prison terms. A total of 68 writers were imprisoned specifically for the practice of their profession or their peaceful activism, representing a third of the total. Almost half of these, 32, have been charged under anti-terror or national security laws. PEN is investigating the cases of 18 more where clarification is needed about the reasons for their detention.
In Africa and the Middle East, long prison sentences represent almost half of those regions’ caseloads, specifically long-term detentions in Eritrea, Egypt, and Iran. Thirty-two writers are held in Asia, mostly in prisons in China. In Europe, two thirds of those detained are in Turkey with a similar number there also on trial.
While in recent years imprisonment has not been used widely against writers in the Americas, harassment and threat is a constant source of pressure from state and non-state sources, reported in half the cases listed. The shadow of impunity lies heavy in the region with murders over the past years remaining unresolved. Lack of justice for writers killed is a factor in all regions, notably in Asia where religious extremists remain unpunished for murders carried out in recent years.
2018 saw the doubling of journalists murdered in retaliation for their reporting. From the brutal murders of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul to murders of the Slovak reporter Ján Kuciak and his fiancée at their home, journalists around the world are at great risk when carrying out their work. At least eight journalists were killed in Mexico and nine broadcast journalists were killed in bomb attacks in Afghanistan.
There is good news too. The Palestinian citizen of Israel Dareen Tatour was freed last September and cited how letters from members "strengthened" her while in detention. Kurdish-Turkish artist Zehra Doğan, released after over 500 days in prison, described how with PEN's support she "never felt helpless." Ethiopian blogger Eskinder Nega, freed last February, wrote "Each word from PEN was a morale booster not only to me and my family but also to the whole democratic movement in Ethiopia." Your hard work makes a difference to writers across the globe. As the Italian journalist Roberto Saviano said to PEN earlier this year, "Solidarity is light." Each year PEN International monitors and campaigns on behalf of hundreds of writers and journalists across the globe who are attacked for their free expression work.
You can read and download the Case List here.
PEN International is ICORN's closest partner and promotes literature and freedom of expression and is governed by the PEN Charter and the principles it embodies: unhampered transmission of thought within each nation and between all nations. Founded in London in 1921, PEN International – PEN’s Secretariat – connects an international community of writers. It is a forum where writers meet freely to discuss their work; it is also a voice speaking out for writers silenced in their own countries. Through Centres in over 100 countries, PEN operates on five continents. PEN International is a non-political organisation which holds Special Consultative Status at the UN and Associate Status at UNESCO. PEN International is a registered charity in England and Wales with registration number 1117088
Once a year the PEN International produces a case list (covering the previous year) of individuals around the world who are detained or otherwise persecuted for their peaceful political activities or for the practice of their profession.