Strasbourg 6 June 2016
Strasbourg 9 May 2016
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Since April 2015*
- alerts in 26 countries
- alerts where a member State replied
- resolved cases
- journalists killed
*Platform launch date
Alerts by category
Latest threats to media freedom
Threats to the Protection of Journalists Sources
The Minister of Justice of Belgium, Koen Geens, announced his intention to increase sentences for violation of professional secrecy, which would permit wiretapping or computer tracing of journalists' sources. The Minister also has plans to allow intelligence services to "withdraw the protection linked to the status of professional journalist" if these services consider that the beneficiary of that legal status in Belgium is not really a journalist. Professional organisations of journalists have denounced these projects, arguing that they undermine the protection of journalists' sources and the legal status of journalists. The General Association of Professional Journalists of Belgium (AGJPB) recalls that the status of professional journalist, in Belgium, is granted (supervised and withdrawn) by an independent commission of approval organised by law, and that it is therefore not the remit of intelligence services to interfere in an independent procedure.
DIHA Journalist Nazım Daştan Arrested for Facebook PostsUpdate : 23 Jun 2016
On 11 February 2016, Dicle News Agency (DIHA) journalist Nazım Daştan was detained on his way back home in the province of Antep (Turkey). He is accused of "spreading propaganda for an illegal organisation". These allegations relate to several posts that the journalist had published on his Facebook. After interrogation, the Kurdish journalist was remanded in custody and sent to the Antep H type prison.
New 23 Jun 2016 : On 23 June 2016, Nazım Daştan has been released in the first hearing held by Antep 2nd Heavy Penal Court.
New Anti-terrorism Law Allows Blocking of Online Media
A new anti-terrorism law came into effect on 22 June 2016 after it was ratified by the Polish President Andrzej Duda. The law was successfully passed by two parliamentary chambers of the Sejm earlier this month. The law gives Poland’s intelligence agency, the ABW (Agencja Bezpieczeństwa Wewnętrznego), the right to “order the blocking or demand that the electronic open source service administrator block access to information data”, thereby giving the agency the right to shut down online media outlets, including websites and television programmes, Kulisy24 reported. Websites can be blocked for up to five days prior to obtaining permission by higher prosecution authorities, and up to 30 days if permission is granted, with the option to renew it for up to three months. Authorisation for a temporary access ban can also now be granted by the minister of justice. The legislation does not grant power to the source administrator to appeal against such a decision. Watchdog website Kulisy24 criticised the legislation, writing that it is not known how blocking will be executed and that the ABW is not obliged to publish its blocking order. The Polish NGO Fundacja Panoptykon started a petition against the law in late April and collected just short of 8,690 signatures by 20 June. Together with the NGO e-Państwo, it also published a protest letter addressed to the Polish president, which was shared by a number of media and NGOs, including the Helsinki Foundation of Human Rights.
Sport Journalist Kyriakos Thomaidis Faces Arrest after Police Raid on Skai TV's Building
On Tuesday 14 June 2016, at midnight, the public prosecutor accompanied with police officers entered the private TV channel Skai in Athens to arrest sport journalist Kyriakos Thomaidis who presents "Court trial at Skai", a programme which addresses controversial issues in Greek sports. The journalist is being sought in connection with a complaint filed by Olympiakos soccer club’s owner Vangelis Marinakis allegedly for defamatory comments in the programme. Officers had earlier attempted to arrest the journalist at the TV station but he refused to follow them, arguing they had no arrest warrant against him. They returned later with the prosecutor but Thomaidis had left after presenting his programme and they spent about 40 minutes searching the premises for him before leaving at around 2.40 a.m., according to reports. Skai TV’s management condemned the midnight raid which they described as “unprecedented” and an “affront to the rule of law and the freedom of the press.”
Draft Bill to Tighten Criminal Penalties for DefamationUpdate : 21 Jun 2016
A committee of the Italian Senate voted unanimously on 3 May 2016, a draft amendment to the Penal Code which will increase the criminal penalties for those accused of defamation against members of the political class, the judiciary or public administration. The draft law will soon be submitted to the Senate for adoption. Specifically, the text envisages raising the maximum sentence from 6 to 9 years in prison, if the defamation concerns a politician, a judge or a public servant. The bill was denounced by the Italian Order of Journalists, the Italian Federation of Journalists Organisations and the NGO Ossigeno per l'Informazione, which recall that another draft bill, introduced in 2012 proposed outright decriminalisation of defamation. In 2013, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatović, addressed a letter to the then Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino, to remind her of the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights, which considers that prison sentences for defamation are a disproportionate sanction and a threat to democracy. The organisations submitting this alert hold firmly to the principle, which has been established in rulings by the European Court of Human Rights, that those who hold high public office should not enjoy additional protections in law but instead should be prepared to accept a higher level of criticism than others.
21 Jun 2016 : Reply from the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
27 May 2016 : Defamation penalty in Italy needs to be considered for its effect on free expression, OSCE media representative says
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.