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Over 80% of writers believe that fake news and censorship is on the rise

Wednesday 13 September 2017 - 4:53pm

block_113 September 2017 - Eight out of ten writers believe that censorship and ‘fake news’ have risen markedly in the last year, according to a global PEN International survey released today.

PEN International’s questionnaire, completed by 228 international writers, revealed that more than 81% of respondents believe that both ‘fake news’ and censorship have become an increasing concern in the last 12 months. A further 87% also believe that combating racism and xenophobia is central to their roles as writers.

The writers surveyed are all members of PEN – the global charity for defending the human right to freedom of expression.

Philippe Sands, author of East West Street, barrister and Professor of Law at University College London said:

'At a time of rising nationalism and xenophobia, accompanied by ever more restraints on freedom of expression, it is timely to be meeting in the great city of Lviv, the anvil on which the modern law of human rights was forged. Let us not forget the past and the lessons it teaches us about where we might now be headed in our world of censorship, fake news and propaganda'.

The survey’s findings are timely. This September, renowned writers Svetlana Alexievitch, Paul Auster, Madeleine Thien and Andrei Kurkov will join over 200 PEN members from around the world for the 83rd PEN International Congress in Lviv, Ukraine. There, they will be debate the issues of fake news, censorship and racism as obstacles to free of expression across the globe.

This year's Congress, under the headline ‘Reclaiming Truth In the Age of Propaganda’, is to feature speakers from over 30 countries.

The President of PEN International, Jennifer Clement, said of the survey’s findings:

‘The revelations of this survey are alarming and demonstrate the increasingly difficult and challenging circumstances under which writers practice their profession. With the increase of populism, the proliferation of fake news and widespread censorship around the globe, the space for free expression is shrinking. We must all come together and resist the erosion of this fundamental human right because we seetime and again that where free expression rights are violated, other rights violations inevitably follow.'

For more information, please contact PEN International’s Campaigns & Communications Manager, Sahar Halaimzai: |t. 020 7405 0338