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“All human beings are born free and equal

in dignity and rights.”

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Imprisoned Writers and the Right to Freedom of Expression

Monday, November 15, 2021 - 3:00pm
Virtual via Zoom


On the 40th anniversary of the Day of the Imprisoned Writer, first commemorated in 1981 by PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee, please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for a briefing on the wrongful imprisonment of journalists, writers, and scholars around the world.

In its 2020 Freedom to Write Index, PEN America found that last year, authorities worldwide jailed at least 273 writers and public intellectuals for exercising their right to freedom of expression, an increase from the 238 imprisoned in 2019. The Committee to Protect Journalists identified 274 imprisoned journalists in 2020. In Free to Think 2020, Scholars at Risk reported on 341 attacks on higher education between September 1, 2019 and August 31, 2020, including 96 cases of wrongfully prosecuted and imprisoned scholars.

Representatives of these three human rights organizations, members of the coalition of organizations that advocate on behalf of prisoners of conscience through the Defending Freedoms Project, will discuss ongoing threats to freedom of expression, the tools governments use to criminalize journalism, writing, and scholarship, and steps Congress can take in response.

This virtual briefing will be open to Members of Congress, congressional staff, the interested public, and the media. To attend, please register here. For questions, please contact Matt McLaughlin (for Co-Chair McGovern) or Piero Tozzi (for Co-Chair Smith).

Hosted by:

James P. McGovern
Member of Congress
Co-Chair, TLHRC
Christopher H. Smith
Member of Congress
Co-Chair, TLHRC


Panel I          


  • Dinaw Mengestu, Writer and John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Professor of the Humanities; Director, Written Arts Program, Bard College




    117th Congress