Strasbourg 26 July 2016
Strasbourg 9 May 2016
The platform in figures
Since April 2015*
- alerts in 27 countries
- alerts where a member State replied
- resolved cases
- journalists killed
*Platform launch date
Alerts by category
Latest threats to media freedom
Extended Pre-Trial Detention of Journalist Zoran Bozinovski
Macedonian journalist Zoran Bozinovski has been spending five months in detention in Skopje, after his extradiction from Serbia where he had spent another 18 months detained. The prosecutor's office in Skopje needed four months to deliver the formal indictment for alleged espionnage, blackmail and criminal association. The journalists' organisations in the country, the Association of Journalists of Macedonia (ZNM-AJM) and the Trade Union of Macedonian Journalists and Media Workers (SSNM), consider that the case against Bozinovski is not based on material evidence and is politically construed by the Macedonian Government with the intention to silence a journalist who covered many corruption cases in which public officials were involved. AJM and SSNM demand the court to abolish Bozinovski's detention and to drop charges against him.
Greece Halves the Number of National TV Broadcasting Licenses
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.
Ukrainian Local Newspaper Raided, Office Sealed by the Representatives of the Local Authorities in Kivertsy
The office of the Ukrainian local newspaper “Vilnym Shliakhom” (Free Way) based in Kivertsy, Volyn oblast, was raided and its office sealed by the representatives of the local council in the morning of 8 September 2016, without a Court judgment or a decision of the State Execution service. The doors of the office were broken, locks were changed and the newspaper’s premises were sealed by the local representatives, who claimed to be acting on the “decision of the local council”. The police officers on the spot failed to intervene. The editor of the newspaper was changed and the Charter modified by the head of the Kivertsy district council without the agreement of the staff (who co-own the newspaper alongside the council). The raid is only the latest action in the long-standing row between the Kivertsy district authorities and the newspaper over the privatisation process, launched by the newspaper following the adoption in Ukraine of the law on “reforming the state and communal printed media”. The staff of “Vilnym Shliakhom” announced an indefinite strike starting on 19 September, over the “illegal actions of the local government”, inaction of the local enforcement structures and the inability to resolve the conflict with the district council. The Independent Media Trade Union of Ukraine condemned the attack and denounced it as an attempt to stop the privatisation. International journalists organisations appealed to the Ukrainian President, as the guarantor of the Constitution, to stop attacks which undermine media freedom. They requested using all possible means to resolve the conflict - negotiations, reconciliation commission, appeals to the Prosecutor General and the Head of the National Police of Ukraine – in order to avoid the strike.
Swiss Intelligence Act threatens Secrecy of Journalistic SourcesUpdate : 16 Sep 2016
The three main journalists’ organisations in Switzerland, impressum, syndicom and SSM, have condemned the draft Intelligence Act (Lrens) that is currently being put to a Referendum. According to the organisations representing journalists, this draft is a threat to the protection of journalistic sources and thus the right of Swiss citizens to be fully informed. The reservations foreseen under the Act in favour of people who are subject to professional secrecy, including journalists, do not sufficiently guarantee the protection of whistler blowers’ anonymity which is key to disclosing information in the interest of the public. The three journalists’ organisations also condemn the means granted to intelligence services to access private exchanges of communication of journalists. Concretely, the text legalises the practice, to be carried out by the intelligence services (Service de renseignement de la Confédération), of a particularly broad and intrusive surveillance of the private lives of citizens, without any real counter- power. The organisations of journalists demand that the law contains explicit guarantees to ensure that the protection of sources cannot be bypassed by the power granted to authorities to access private communications of journalists and whistleblowers.
New 16 Sep 2016 : Reply by the Swiss authorities
12 Dead in Attack on Charlie Hebdo Magazine in France
On Wednesday, 7 January 2015, two gunmen attacked the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, France, killing 12 people in total, including 8 journalists and two police officers. The terrorism attack was religiously motivated: Witnesses said they had heard the gunmen shouting "We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad" and "God is Great" in Arabic while calling out the names of the journalists. The offices of Charlie Hebdo had been targeted several times previously, including in a firebomb attack in 2011. The magazine published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in 2012. • Charlie Hebdo editor and cartoonist Stephane "Charb" Charbonnier, 47, who had been living under police protection since receiving death threats • Cartoonists Jean "Cabu" Cabut, 76, Bernard "Tignous" Verlhac, 57, Georges Wolinski, 80, and Philippe Honore, 73 • Elsa Cayat, 54, psychoanalyst and columnist, the only woman killed • Economist and regular magazine columnist Bernard Maris, 68, known to readers as Uncle Bernard • Michel Renaud, who was visiting from the city of Clermont-Ferrand • Mustapha Ourrad, proof-reader • Police officer Ahmed Merabet, 42, who was shot dead in a nearby street after the attack • Frederic Boisseau, 42, caretaker, who was in the reception area at the time of the attack (his photo has not been released) • Franck Brinsolaro, 49, a police officer who acted as Charb's bodyguard (his photo has not been released) The police ultimately killed the two brothers, Cherif and Said Kouachi, who carried out the Charlie Hebdo shootings, in a siege on January 9th. The same day, a collaborator of the Kouachi brothers, Amedy Coulibaly was killed by police after taking hostages in a Kosher Supermarket. Another alleged conspirator, Hayat Boumeddiene, is still wanted by police - although she is believed to have travelled to Syria from Turkey.
Resolved - In the wake of the shooting, the French authorities identified the individuals who prepared and carried out the attack. Three of them were killed by the police trying to apprehend them. The last alleged conspirator, Hayat Boumeddiene, is still wanted, allegedly hiding in Syria. On 13 September 2016, the partner organisations of the Platform declared this case to be ”resolved”, concluding it was no longer an active threat to media freedom.
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.