Patrick Penninckx, the Head of the Council of Europe Information Society Department, delivered a key note speech at the annual meeting of the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) held on 18-19 May in Bucharest, Romania. He described the current situation as a “turning point for media freedom” due to dramatic challenges faced by European societies.
He emphasised that media freedom is declining in almost half of the Council of Europe member states; that journalists are increasingly exposed to threats, violence and imprisonment; that media, including the internet, is progressively restricted by national security concerns and that concentration of ownership hinders diversity and independence. He pointed out that the recent study on intimidation of journalists has reported massive unwarranted interference, fear and consequent self-censorship.
Acknowledging that the voice of journalists is crucial in promoting the protection of journalism, he equally stressed the responsibility of states to protect media freedom in accordance with by the Council of Europe latest recommendation on the protection of journalism and safety of journalists and other media actors and resolution on attacks against journalists and media freedom in Europe.
Mr Penninckx invited EFJ to play a vital role in defending human rights in Europe which are under severe attack. He stressed that the European Federation of Journalists is a key partner of the Council of Europe in its work to protect journalists and media freedom and media standards, notably through participation in the platform for the protection of journalism and safety of journalists and other initiatives.
The meeting was attended by around 90 delegates of the European Federation of Journalists connecting 71 unions/associations representing over 320,000 journalists in 43 countries.