Strasbourg 6 June 2016
Strasbourg 9 May 2016
The platform in figures
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
Criminal Investigation Opened Against Journalists for Solidarity CampaignUpdate : 29 Jun 2016
On 18 May 2016 Turkish judicial authorities opened a criminal investigation against six journalists and trade unionists for participating in a solidarity campaign with the Kurdish daily newspaper Özgür Gündem. The journalists include Ertugrul Mavioglu, Faruk Eren, Ayse Düzkan, Mustafa Sönmez, Melda Onur and Erol Önderoglu. The Co-Editorship-in-Chief campaign was launched by Özgür Gündem daily on 3 May 2016 for World Press Freedom Day (#WPFD) where up to 16 journalists participated.Requests have been filed for the journalists and trade unionists to testify for articles that are being considered "terrorist propaganda" and an "incitement to crime" which were published whilst they participated in the solidarity campaign.
New 29 Jun 2016 : On 26 June 2016, journalists Nadire Mater, Yıldırım Türker, Tuğrul Eryılmaz and Faruk Balıkçı were the next four editors of Özgür Gündem to be questioned on "terrorist propaganda" charges for participating in the solidarity campaign with the newspaper.
New 20 Jun 2016 : On 20 June 2016, a prosecutor issued a warrant for the pre-trial arrest of Şebnem Korur Fincancı, Erol Önderoğlu and Ahmet Nesin. Following a court decision, all three journalists were arrested.
New 20 Jun 2016 : CoE Commissioner for Human Rights appalled by detention of human rights defenders in Turkey will take this up with the authorities.
New 20 Jun 2016 : OSCE Representative appalled by imprisonment of two journalists and a human rights activist in Turkey, urges their release
Former Prime Minister Publicly Insults Two JournalistsUpdate : 29 Jun 2016
On 21 March 2016, the former Prime Minister of Slovenia and current leader of the main opposition party (SDS), Janez Jansa, insulted on his personal Twitter account a journalist and an editor from TV Slovenija (TVS), the Slovenian public broadcaster. They had broadcasted a story on the increase of hate speech against refugees and migrants in the country, including within SDS. On 21 March, at 7:43 pm, Janez Jansa posted a tweet naming the two journalists and comparing them to “disused prostitutes for 30 and 35 euros”. The Slovene Association of Journalists (DNS) and TVS journalists strongly condemned this public attack.
New 29 Jun 2016 : Reply from the Republic of Slovenia
Police Pressure and Censorship following the Release of Recorded Conversations of the Interior Ministry
Police officers intervened, on Friday 24 June 2016, in the news room of the daily Público, in Madrid, in order to seize the recording of conversations between the Spanish Interior Minister, Jorge Fernandez Diaz, and the Director of the Anti-Corruption Agency of Catalonia, Daniel de Alfonso. On Tuesday 21 June 2016, the newspaper revealed these conversations, held on 2 and 16 October 2014, which are considered compromising for the Minister. Since they were not in possession of a warrant issued by a judge, the police could not seize the records. On 22 June, the Independent Council on Information of the Spanish public television channel TVE requested the immediate resignation of the Management of the Information Department and of TVE’s Director, accusing them of censoring the broadcast of extracts of the recordings during the TVE news.
Polish Journalists Targeted in Police Wiretapping, Audit RevealsUpdate : 28 Jun 2016
An internal investigation conducted by the Polish Bureau of Internal Affairs (BSW) has revealed police files containing recordings of conversations of around 80 individuals in the country, including several journalists. The recordings were made between mid-2014 and 2015 by units of the Polish police force. The revelation about the files followed an investigation ordered by the new head of the department of the Bureau of Internal Affairs (BSW), Zbigniew Maj, into the illegal recording of conversations between senior politicians. The investigation uncovered recordings of conversations about sensitive and controversial issues. The eavesdropping also targeted lawyers and journalists reporting on these matters, as well as their family members. The investigation uncovered that two separate police units were engaged in the wiretapping that involved approximately 29 officers, seven of which are facing disciplinary measures.
18 Feb 2016 : Reports from the central district attorney in Warsaw claim that the surveillance over journalists and their relatives from the "tape scandal" had apparently not taken place, counter to the internal police audit indications published earlier this year. In an official statement, Przemysław Nowak, the spokesperson for the district attorney, says: “The document submitted by the KGP [Police headquarters] does not hold up the suspicion of any offence whatsoever, including…the overstepping of permissions by functionaries of the police of the bureau of internal affairs...It does not give grounds for renewed investigations”. The head of the Polish police, Zbigniew Maj, had originally submitted the results of the audit to the Warsaw district attorney, who would decide whether to take up disciplinary procedures. Maj, who was appointed when the PiS party took power, has now stepped down from his post. Ryszard Walczuk, the former director of the BSW police, criticised the appointment of Maj due to previous allegations against him. In an interview with TVN news, Walczuk reported that his department had notified the ministry of internal affairs of an investigation into Maj from June 2015. The investigation, based on anonymous accusations, detail his alleged professional misconduct dating back years prior.
New 28 Jun 2016 : Reply from the Polish Government
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.
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.