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Latest threats to media freedom
New Albanian anti-corruption law threatens media freedom
As part of the judicial reform, the Albanian Parliament has drafted a law, officially aiming to fight corruption, that will threaten freedom of speech and media freedom, says the Association of professional journalists (APJ). The article 13 of the draft legislation regulating “the organisation and functioning of institution to encounter corruption and organised crime" states that "any inappropriate influence on the work of the special prosecutors or their actions on specific issues through the public authorities or the media, or any other form of pressure that impacts on the independence of prosecutors, is prohibited and punished by the law." Journalists’ associations in Albania have expressed concerns that the wording might limit their right to free speech and impose censorship. Under the provision, any journalist or media organisation reporting on the case pursued by the authorities could be accused of violating the law and could face up to three years in prison.
Özgür Gündem Daily shut down and journalists’ homes raided in TurkeyUpdate : 22 Aug 2016
A court in Istanbul ordered on August 16, 2016 the closure of Özgür Gündem newspaper for spreading alleged "propaganda on behalf of the outlawed terrorist organisation". Shortly after the announcement of the newspaper’s closure by authorities, police raided its office in İstanbul’s Beyoğlu district. During the police raid, the newspaper’s editor-in-chief Zana Kaya, journalists Günay Aksoy, Kemal Bozkurt, Reyhan Hacıoğlu, Önder Elaldı, Ender Önder, Sinan Balık, Fırat Yeşilçınar, İnan Kızılkaya, Özgür Paksoy, Zeki Erden, Elif Aydoğmuş, Bilir Kaya, Ersin Çaksu, Mesut Kaynar,Sevdiye Gürbüz, Amine Demirkıran, Bayram Balcı, Burcu Özkaya, Yılmaz Bozkurt, Gülfem Karataş, Gökhan Çetin, Hüseyin Gündüz and Asli Erdogan were taken in custody by the authorities. Media freedom organisations condemned the violence of the detentions. Following the closure of Özgür Gündem, the authorities raided the next day (17 August) the house of Ragip Zarakolu, a journalist, writer and editor known for his publishing work on minority rights in Turkey. The writer was not home but his books about Armenian, Pontus and Assyrian genocides have been confiscated by the authorities. Houses of journalists Eren Keskin and Filiz Koçali have also been raided by the police for similar purpose. The total number of staff members detained has risen to 24, P24 reported on 16 August.
New 22 Aug 2016 : 23 staff members of Özgur Gündem Daily have been released, according to EFJ. Journalist Asli Erdogan is the only one to be kept in detention to date.
Journalist Lukasz Masiak Beaten to DeathUpdate : 17 Aug 2016
Polish journalist Lukasz Masiak (31), editor of a local online news portal NaszaMlawa.pl, was beaten to death in the night of 13 to 14 June 2015 in the city center of Mlawa, a town located in north-central Poland. Masiak, who reported mainly on the local administration in Mlawa, had received death threats because of his journalistic work and an obituary message was sent to his home. Following the first attack a year ago, Masiak told the media, “It was certainly not an attack by the robbers. The person attacking me was clearly waiting for me. I’m sure it was about the reports we published on our news portal.” Masiak reported every attack and threat he received to the police but the police investigations have produced no results, so far.
08 Feb 2016 : The investigation into the murder of Lukasz Masiak has been reopened. A man suspected of murdering the journalist handed himself in at the Prosecutor’s Office. He has been detained in police custody. Following interrogation, he was charged with murder. Bartosz N. had been evading justice since June 2015.
New 17 Aug 2016 : Updated information from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland
09 Jul 2015 : Response of the Government of Poland
News reporter Dmitri Remisov assaulted by police during interrogation
Dmitri Remisov, the Rostov-on-Don regional correspondent for Rosbalt news agency, told the agency he was repeatedly assaulted by police officers while being questioned at the regional Centre for Counteracting Extremism on 11 August, 2016. According to Remisov, he was asked to come to the CCE in order to answer questions related to a criminal case “on the preparation of a terrorist act” in the city of Rostov. He reported that two police officers asked him whether he knew certain individuals, most of whom were opposition activists. “Then they asked me if I knew a certain Smyshlayev. I said that I didn't remember such a person. One officer started saying I did know this person in 2009, after which he struck my head three times. Afterwards, he began threatening me, saying he could prosecute me under the criminal law or could have some Nazis punish me”, Remizov said. After he was questioned another policeman threatened him with physical punishment, saying "we will meet [with you] once again”. The Rosbalt correspondent received medical care after the questioning. He also filed a complaint against police officers, Rosbalt reported.
Journalists Arrested in Major Clampdown following Failed Coup in TurkeyUpdate : 12 Aug 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 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.
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.