Support to journalists in distress

Media professionals are often confronted with violence, prosecution and harassment while conducting their work. This may lead to suspension of work or the inability to continue a journalistic career. Free Press Unlimited provides support to journalists in distress, so they can mitigate emergencies that arise in relation to their work and resume their work as swiftly as possible. This way, journalists can continue to function as change catalysts within society, especially in countries where democracy is under threat and the government engages in corruption and oppression.

Together with its partners within the Journalists in Distress network, Free Press Unlimited verifies, discusses and vets cases and coordinates joint efforts in offering emergency and legal support to journalists. In 2019 Free Press Unlimited became a co-coordinator of this network. In addition to the Journalists in Distress network, Free Press Unlimited works together with over 15 local partners around the world to provide support to media professionals, both within Reporters Respond and the Legal Defense Fund.

Reporters Respond

In 2019, 102 journalists and media workers received support through Reporters Respond, directly and through local partnerships.

Legal Defense Fund

In 2019, 195 media professionals received support through the Legal Defense Fund, directly and through local partnerships.


Reporters Respond

Reporters Respond is an international emergency fund for journalists, managed by Free Press Unlimited since 2011. The fund can support journalists who have been confronted with (online) harassment, intimidation or violence, among other things, to continue their vital work as quickly as possible. Support is provided irrespective of the medium and the area covered by the journalist or outlet. Importantly, this fund is not meant to provide structural assistance, but it provides media professionals with one-time financial support to cover costs, for example for replacing their damaged equipment. 

Free Press Unlimited can offer:

  • Medical assistance: for injuries sustained in the course of the journalists work;
  • Subsistence costs: short term support for journalists who are not able to work, or costs to temporarily flee an unsafe or vulnerable situation;
  • Psychological support: advice, referral, and funds to seek psycho-social assistance;
  • Work provisions: digital tools like VPNs for online protection and work materials in exceptional cases;
  • Family support: temporary support for family members of journalists who are unable to work, who are imprisoned, or who are deceased;
  • Preventive safety measures: knowledge and resources that help the recipient to circumvent censorship and communicate safely and securely, as well as security training (on location or online).

In addition to its emergency fund, Reporters Respond is also able to provide advice, coaching and support, sometimes in the form of referrals, on the subject of digital, physical and psycho-social safety.

The eligibility criteria are available here and the online application form is available here.


In many countries worldwide journalists are being prosecuted or imprisoned for reporting the news (see here). Almost everywhere in the world, journalists and media are subjected to growing judicial harassment. Prosecutions, long-running lawsuits, and imprisonment are part of the abusive judicial proceedings designed to silence reporters and media houses and drain them of financial resources. Therefore, Free Press Unlimited has set up the Legal Defense Fund. Journalists (Dutch and non-Dutch) who run into legal issues outside of the Netherlands can apply for help from the Legal Defense Fund. The fund provides financial assistance, for example for a lawyer or court costs. This way, journalists will not be forced to withdraw their defense and accept the consequences of, often false, accusations. Families of imprisoned journalists who are breadwinners can also apply for financial assistance. Other support that falls under the Legal Defense Fund comprises referrals to (pro bono) laywers, legal advice, preventative measures (such as a pre-publication analysis), prison support, and trial monitoring.

Free Press Unlimited can offer:

  • Basic legal support (to a maximum of 5000 EUR);
  • Public or impact litigation requests.

The eligibility criteria are available here and the online application form is available here.


Journalist running away from the site of a bomb attack in Kabul, Afghanistan
Credit: Hollandse Hoogte/Rahmatullah Alizadah Xinhua

Support by other organisations

See here for an overview of (emergency) support to journalists in distress that is provided by other organisations.