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Secretary General Jagland discusses media freedom in Turkey with international journalist associationsStrasbourg 6 october 2016
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Latest threats to media freedom
Greece Halves the Number of National TV Broadcasting LicensesUpdate : 28 Oct 2016
On 30 August 2016, in accordance with a recent law which reduces to four the number of national TV licenses issued to private broadcasters, the Greek government launched an auction for four out of the currently operating eight private national TV broadcasting licenses. The Government claimed that this process would restore order to a sector mired in debt and discredited due to its political links, by cracking down on corruption and enabling better regulation. After a three-day bidding process, on 2 September, the four 10-year licenses were successfully awarded. The process has drawn criticism from broadcasters and opposition, who claimed the government is trying to crackdown on the pluralism of the media. In February 2016, the European Commission expressed serious concerns about this new law putting media journalism at risk. The auction will lead to the closure within 90 days of the four TV existing operators which failed to secure a license, including some of the largest TV operators in Greece. According to the Journalists’ Union of Athens Daily Newspapers (JUADN) about 1,800 journalists, technical staff and employees risk losing their job and another 3,000 media workers employed in the media industry would be impacted. The JUADN expresses serious concerns about this new law putting media pluralism at risk and preventing the free flow of ideas and the independence of broadcasters.
New 28 Oct 2016 : On 26 October 2016, the Council of State ruled the TV licence law unconstitutional.
Investigative Journalist Sergei Reznik Handed a 3-Year Jail Term for ‘Insults’ Charges in RussiaUpdate : 27 Oct 2016
Sergei Reznik is well known for his journalistic investigations into the administration of the Rostov province, led by Governor Vasily Golubev. On 26 November 2013, he was jailed for 18 months after being convicted of ‘publicly insulting” on the online blog LiveJournal the chairwoman and judge of the Rostov Oblast Arbitration Court. The reporter denounced this charge as fabricated. On 22 January 2015, he was convicted of insulting and misleading authorities. The Leninsky District Court in Rostov-on-Don sentenced him to a three-year jail term in a prison colony. The court also banned Reznik from practicing journalism for two years. The journalist denied the accusations and has always maintained his innocence.
New 27 Oct 2016 : On 26 October 2016, Sergei Reznik was released after three years in jail.
22 Jan 2015 : OSCE Representative denounces conviction of independent journalist and blogger in Russia
Journalists Arrested in Major Clampdown following Failed Coup in TurkeyUpdate : 26 Oct 2016
On 25 July 2016, The Turkish anti-terrorism Prosecutor Irfan Fidan has today issued arrest warrants for 42 journalists in the wake of the failed coup against President Erdoğan. According to Anatolian News Agency, the journalists targeted are: Abdullah Abdulkadiroğlu, Abdullah Kılıç, Ahmet Dönmez, Ali Akkuş, Arda Akın, Nazlı Ilıcak, Bayram Kaya, Bilal Şahin, Bülent Ceyhan, Bülent Mumay, Bünyamin Köseli, Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu, Cevheri Güven, Cihan Acar, Cuma Ulus, Emre Soncan, Ercan Gün, Erkan Akkuş, Ertuğrul Erbaş, Fatih Akalan, Fatih Yağmur, Habip Güler, Hanım Büşra Erdal, Haşim Söylemez, Hüseyin Aydın, İbrahim Balta, Kamil Maman, Kerim Gün, Levent Kenez, Mahmut Hazar, Mehmet Gündem, Metin Yıkar, Muhammed Fatih Uğur, Mustafa Erkan Acar, Mürsel Genç, Selahattin Sevi, Seyid Kılıç, Turan Görüryılmaz, Ufuk Şanlı, Ufuk Emin Köroğlu, Yakup Sağlam and Yakup Çetin. Among those targeted by the warrants was prominent journalist and former parliamentarian Nazli Ilicak who was fired from the pro-government Sabah daily in 2013 for criticising ministers caught up in a corruption scandal, NTV and CNN-Turk reported. On 27 July 2016, journalist Nuriye Akman was taken into custody. On 27 July 2016, Istanbul prosecutors issued arrest warrants for 47 former executives and columnists of Zaman newspaper. Those named in the warrants include the following former columnists and executives : Osman Nuri Öztürk, Ali Akbulut, Bülent Keneş, Mehmet Kamış, Hüseyin Döğme, Süleyman Sargın, Veysel Ayhan, Şeref Yılmaz, Mehmet Akif Afşar, Ahmet Metin Sekizkardeş, Alaattin Güner, Faruk Kardıç, Metin Tamer Gökçeoğlu, Faruk Akkan, Mümtazer Türköne, Şahin Alpay, Sevgi Akarçeşme, Ali Ünal, Mustafa Ünal, Zeki Önal, Hilmi Yavuz, Ahmet Turan Alkan, Lalezar Sarıibrahimoğlu, Ali Bulaç, Bülent Korucu, İhsan Duran Dağı, Nuriye Ural, Hamit Çiçek, Adil Gülçek, Hamit Bilici, Şenol Kahraman, Melih Kılıç, Nevzat Güner, Mehmet Özdemir, Fevzi Yazıcı, Sedat Yetişkin, Oktay Vızvız, Abdullah Katırcıoğlu, Behçet Akyar, Murat Avcıoğlu, Yüksel Durgut, Zafer Özsoy, Cuma Kaya, Hakan Taşdelen, Osman Nuri Arslan, and Ömer Karakaş. On the same day, Zaman daily columnist, Şahin Alpay, has been detained after police raided his house in the early morning hours. Lale Sarıibrahimoğlu, who used to work for Zaman and Today’s Zaman and currently reports for IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, was taken by police from her home early on that day too. She has reported in detail about issues concerning the Turkey armed forces, their financial assets, and shortcomings in terms of transparency and accountability. She has suffered for several years from poor health and has need of assured access to medical attention.
New 26 Oct 2016 : As of 26 October 2016, the list of detained journalists was updated, adding the following 24 journalists, arrested under State of emergency as part of the coup investigation: Abdullah Özyurt, Ahmet Yavaş, Ayşenur Parıldak, Aytekin Gezici, Aziz İstegün, Bayram Parlak, Cumali Önal, Gültekin Avcı, Eda Şanlı, Halil İbrahim Mert, İbrahim Karayeğen, Kenan Baş, Lokman Erdoğan, Mehmet Kuru, Murat Aksoy, Nurullah Kaya, Nuri Durna, Olgun Matur, Osman Yakut, Özkan Mayda, Tuncer Çetinkaya, Vahit Yazgan, Vedat Demir and Yalçın Güler. Most of them were former Zaman journalists and executives. Additionally, 12 journalists, arrested during the State of emergency outside the coup probe, were also added to the list of detained journalists: Ali Aşikar, Erdem Mühirci, Hülya Karakaya , İlker İlkan, Mehmet Anıl, Mehmet Arslan , Necmiye Alpay, Nizamettin Yılmaz, Rabia Özkaya, Selahattin Koyuncu , Şirin Çoban and Zeynel Abidin Bulut.
New 18 Oct 2016 : As of 18 October 2016, 35 of the 89 journalists targeted by one of the 2 mass warrants issued after the coup attempt have been arrested : Abdullah Kılıç, Ali Akkuş, Nazlı Ilıcak, Bayram Kaya, Bünyamin Köseli, Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu, Cihan Acar, Cuma Ulus, Emre Soncan, Ercan Gün, Habip Güler, Hanım Büşra Erdal, Haşim Söylemez, Hüseyin Aydın, İbrahim Balta, Mustafa Erkan Acar, Seyid Kılıç, Ufuk Şanlı, and Yakup Çetin - Şeref Yılmaz, Ahmet Metin Sekizkardeş, Alaattin Güner, Faruk Akkan, Mümtazer Türköne, Şahin Alpay, Ali Ünal, Mustafa Ünal, Ahmet Turan Alkan, Ali Bulaç, Mehmet Özdemir, Fevzi Yazıcı, Murat Avcıoğlu, , Zafer Özsoy, Cuma Kaya, and Hakan Taşdelen. On Oct 12, former Taraf and Zaman columnists Lalezar Sariibrahimoglu and Nuriye (Akman) Ural were released from prison pending trial. An Istanbul Criminal Court decided that there were sufficient grounds for suspecting that both were members of the so-called Fethullah Gülen Terrorist Organization/Parallel State Structure, or FETÖ/PDY, but also indicated that the case against them would be subject to further assessment to ascertain whether it could be shown to be strong enough to proceed. On that basis they were released from custody on appeal with certain legal controls. Both are banned from travelling abroad. To date, ten journalists have been released: Arda Akın, Bülent Mumay, Mehmet Gündem, and Yakup Sağlam -Zeki Önal, Hilmi Yavuz, Lalezar Sarıibrahimoğlu (Lale Kemal), İhsan Duran Dağı, Nuriye (Akman) Ural and Osman Nuri Arslan.
12 Aug 2016 : As of 12 August 2016, IFJ/EFJ indicates that 74 journalists and media workers were in detention following the 15 July failed coup in Turkey.
26 Jul 2016 : In the early morning of 26 July 2016, journalist and former parliamentarian Nazlı Ilıcak, one of the 42 journalists named in the arrest warrants as part of the post-coup attempt crackdown operations, was detained in the Bodrum district of the Aegean province of Muğla. According to Turkish media reports, six other journalists appearing on the list were also detained: Yakup Sağlam, İbrahim Balta, Seyit Kılıç, Bayram Kaya, Cihan Acar and Hanım Büşra Erdal.
Largest Opposition Daily Suspended in HungaryUpdate : 26 Oct 2016
On 8 October 2016, the publisher Mediaworks Zrt. suspended, with immediate effect and with no prior notice, publication of online and print versions of the largest Hungarian opposition daily Népszabadság. The CEO resigned the day before and the publisher’s replacement as CEO announced the decision in a statement, citing "significant” financial losses as the reason for closure. The publisher said that Népszabadság lost 100,000 readers and suffered 5 billion forints (€16.7 million) worth of losses over the last 10 years. Népszabadság's journalists swiftly announced their intention to "take legal action against the publisher due to ongoing legal violations", including a failure to invite their representatives to a crucial meeting of the supervisory board. Journalists were blocked from entering their offices, and cut off from their e-mail accounts and the paper’s servers after receiving notification of the decision. Mediaworks has been under Vienna Capital Partners’ investments for the last two years. Vienna Capital acquired Népszabadság, with a first-quarter circulation of 38,000, by buying stakes from Ringier AG in 2014 and a foundation with ties to the opposition Socialist party last year, expanding a portfolio that already includes the country’s largest business as well as profit-making sports newspapers. The Népsabadság editorial team criticised the closure as a way of silencing criticism of the government, pointing out that it came days after the paper published stories with corruption allegations against Prime Minister’s close allies and a scandal involving the governor of the central bank. The Hungarian Press Union (HPU) also denounced the sudden shutdown and said that media pluralism, freedom of expression and labour rights are being violated. The organisations submitting this alert consider that the suspension of the newspaper in such a peremptory and untransparent manner risks serious damage to media diversity in Hungary and is liable to have a chilling effect on the capacity for independent and investigative journalism.
New 26 Oct 2016 : On 25 October 2016, Népszabadság was sold to Opimus Press.
New 26 Oct 2016 : Secretary General Jagland discussed with Hungarian Justice Minister, László Trócsányi, the importance of media plurality in particular following the recent closure of the Nepszabadsag newspaper.
Romania to Eliminate Public Broadcast FeeUpdate : 26 Oct 2016
On 17 October 2016, the Romanian Senate approved a draft law to eliminate the monthly TV and radio licence fee and to introduce direct funding of public service media from the state budget. The proposal, initiated by the Social-Democrats leader Liviu Dragnea, has come just a few weeks ahead the general elections. The measure, highly significant for the future of public broadcasting in Romania, was buried in a draft law proposing the elimination of 102 non-fiscal taxes. The draft bill is now to be discussed in the Chamber of Deputies. The Romanian Federation of Culture and Mass-Media FAIR-MediaSind, the Center for Independent Journalism, ActiveWatch and the Convention of Media Organizations are calling the Members of the Parliament to reject the draft bill, which would increase the political dependency of the public broadcaster. The journalists’ organisations in Romania insist that the licence fees are the best way to guarantee the editorial independence of public service media, reducing the risk of political interference. The licence fee represents 67.56% of the incomes for the public television, and 49% for the public radio. The current rate of the TV fee is 0.8 EUR per month, the lowest in Europe, and the radio fee is 0.6 EUR per month. Following a recent study from the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), the licence fee system is shown to be the most stable, transparent and adaptable way to fund Public Service Media.
New 26 Oct 2016 : On 25 October 2016, the Lower Chamber of the Romanian Parliament adopted the bill providing for the elimination of over 100 non-fiscal taxes, including the radio-TV licence tax, rejecting the amendments of the special commission which would have seen the radio-TV licence tax remaining in force.
Recommendation CM/Rec(2016)4 of the Committee of Ministers on the protection of journalism and safety of journalists and other media actors, 13 April 2016
Factsheet on freedom of expression and the broadcasting media, 4 April 2016
Factsheet on mass surveillance, 29 February 2016
Factsheet on media coverage of protests and demonstrations, 29 February 2016
A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists
Killings; abductions; threats and acts of violence against the physical integrity of journalists, their family members and other media actors; attacks against journalists’ sources because of their co-operation with journalists or media.
B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists
Arbitrary, unwarranted or politically-motivated arrests, detention and imprisonment of journalists and other media actors.
C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists
Harassment of journalists and other media institutions or actors; violence or interference causing damage or destruction of journalists’ equipment or other property; punitive or vindictive exercise of investigatory tax or administrative powers; arbitrary denial of access for journalistic coverage; threats to journalists’ privacy, threats to employment status, psychological abuse, bullying, online harassment and cyber-bullying;
Judicial intimidation: opportunistic, arbitrary or vexatious use of legislation, including defamation, anti-terrorism, national security, hooliganism or anti-extremism laws; issuing bogus or fabricated charges;
Political intimidation, including hate speech and use by public figures of abusive or demeaning language against journalists or media outlets;
Other forms of intimidation and harassment.
Failures to promptly, independently and effectively investigate and seek to prosecute crimes and offences against journalists and other media institutions or actors.
E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom
Acts having chilling effects on media freedom including restrictive legislation encroaching on media freedom;
Censorship, interference with editorial freedom;
Threats to the confidentiality of journalists’ sources;
Unjustified or indiscriminate blocking of websites or social media platforms, hacking, and surveillance or interception of communications data of journalists without due process of authorisation, etc.
The platform was set up in close co-operation with five major journalists’ and freedom of expression organisations* – signatories of the Memorandum of Understanding with the Council of Europe. They are responsible for providing verified information on serious concerns with regard to the media freedom and safety of journalists.
* European Federation of Journalists, International Federation of Journalists, Association of European Journalists , Article 19, Reporters Without Borders, Committee to Protect Journalists, Index on Censorship
Covers the most severe and damaging violations of media freedom, including physical assaults and murder, intimidation, impunity for crimes targeting journalists and the application of excessively severe penal laws to protect state officials from the level of criticism which is to be expected in a democracy.
Applies to governments’ dealings with the media in law and administration. These category concerns violations of media freedom arising from the misuse of governmental or other powers to direct the media, especially in elections, interference with media freedom through ownership, control and regulation, the abusive or disproportional use of laws on anti-terrorism, extremism and state security on freedom of expression, access to information and confidentiality of sources and the independence of public sector broadcasting.
Covers the need for diverse media ownership, professional and ethical conduct on the part of media owners, managers, editors and workers, decent working conditions, procedures to deal with disputes and complaints and effective national reviews of the condition of media freedom.
This section presents a non-exhaustive selection of CoE instruments and ECHR case-law. This information is not a legal assessment of the alert and should not be treated or used as such.