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Ukraine Bans 38 European Journalists and Bloggers over “National Interest, Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity"

Update : 30 May 2016
Date of entry 17 Sep 2015 Country Ukraine Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Submitted by EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 2
17 Sep 2015 Ukraine E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State EFJ/IFJ Level 2

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has signed a decree banning up to 388 people, including at least 38 international journalists and bloggers from the country for one year. The President’s decree, which was signed yesterday 16 September 2015 and published on the presidential website, names 388 people who are accused of “representing an actual or potential threat to national interests, national security, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.” The decree claims that the ban targets people involved in Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the current aggression in Eastern Ukraine. The 31 journalists and seven bloggers named on the list are nationals of Bulgaria, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Kazakhstan, Latvia, "The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia", Rebublic of Moldova, Poland, Russian Federation, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. The original list included three BBC media staff members - Moscow correspondent Steve Rosenberg, producer Emma Wells and cameraman Anton Chicherov - who were later removed from the ban list, media reported.

Updates

30 May 2016 :
30 May 2016 : On 27 May 2016, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed a presidential decree, enacting a decision of the National Security and Defence Council resolution of 20 May 2016, lifting sanctions on 29 foreign journalists. At the same time, the list has been updated to include 19 media executives of the Russian Federation broadcasters.

Follow-ups

17 Sep 2015 : Statement by the Spokesperson of the Secretary General on Ukraine's sanctions against media
17 Sep 2015 : Statement by the Commissioner for Human Rights

Draft bill to tighten criminal penalties for defamation

Date of entry 27 May 2016 Country Italy Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Submitted by EFJ/IFJ , AEJ , Index , IPI Alert level Level 2
27 May 2016 Italy E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State EFJ/IFJ , AEJ , Index , IPI Level 2

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.

Follow-ups

27 May 2016 : Statement by the OSCE Freedom of Media Representative Dunja Mijatovic

Trumped-up Charges to Silence an Investigative Journalist in Azerbaijan

Update : 26 May 2016
Date of entry 30 Mar 2015 Country Azerbaijan Category B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists Source of threat State Submitted by EFJ/IFJ , RSF Alert level Level 1
30 Mar 2015 Azerbaijan B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists State EFJ/IFJ , RSF Level 1

The investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova, a leading figure in the battle for press freedom in Azerbaijan, was arrested on 5 December 2014 on a trumped-up charge of inciting a former colleague to commit suicide. Her preventive detention has been routinely extended ever since and on 13 February 2015, she was additionally charged with large-scale embezzlement, illegal trading, tax evasion and abuse of authority. The new charges follow a 26 December 2014 raid on the Baku bureau of Radio Azadliq (the Azerbaijani service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty), which Ismayilova ran until just over four years ago. Radio Azadliq was closed and placed under seal after being searched. RWB calls these charges frivolous and considers that Khadija Ismayilova's arrest is merely a punishment for her brave journalistic activities. An award-winning journalist, she is well known for deep investigations into the corruption at the highest levels of government. Ismayilova's arrest was condemned by the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe President Anne Brasseur, the US Department of State, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, RSF, the IFJ, the EFJ, Index on Censorship, the CPJ and many others. For most of these organisations, the arrest of Ismailova is nothing but intimidation, part of an ongoing campaign aimed at silencing free and critical voices in Azerbaijan.

Updates

New 25 May 2016 : On 25 May 2016, Azerbaijan’s Supreme Court has ordered to release Khadija Ismayilova from custody after reducing her prison sentence from 7.5 years to a suspended term of 3.5 years.
25 Nov 2015 : On 25 November 2015, the Baku Court of Appeal upheld the verdict of the court of first instance, sentencing Khadija Ismayilova to a 7.5 year prison term.
03 Sep 2015 : On 1 September 2015, a Baku court sentenced Khadija Ismayilova to 7 and a half years in prison on charges of misappropriation and embezzlement, illegal business dealings, tax evasion and abuse of power. In her closing statement, Ms Ismayilova denounced the case against her as politically motivated with the aim of ending her investigations into corruption at the highest levels of government. The AEJ, Article 19, EFJ/IFJ and Reporters Without Borders jointly denounce the verdict and sentence against Khadiya Ismayilova as based on fabricated evidence and legally unsound. They call for the verdict to be reversed, for the case against Ismayilova to be dismissed, and for her immediate and unconditional release.
21 Aug 2015 : Khadija Ismayilova's hearing began in Baku on 7th August, and culminated in a request on 21st August by the State Prosecutor to sentence her to 9 years in prison. The judge has adjourned the case until 26th August, when a verdict is likely to be delivered. The State Prosecutor's request to condemn Ismayilova to 9 years' imprisonment is a gross violation of human rights, given the lack of due process in the case and the absence of any credible evidence presented by the prosecution. Ismayilova has accused the court of rushing through her trial and not giving her sufficient chance to respond to the charges. Only some representatives of foreign embassies were allowed to attend the trial; and no independent media or civil society were present. The IFJ, the EFJ, ARTICLE 19, and AEJ urge the Azerbaijan authorities to reject the Prosecutor’s request and immediately free Khadija Ismayilova.

State replies

01 Jun 2015 : Reply by the Government of Azerbaijan

Follow-ups

New 25 May 2016 : Statement of the CoE Commissioner for Human Rights
21 Jan 2016 : CoE Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muižnieks intervenes before the European Court of Human Rights on the case of Khadija Ismayilova
01 Sep 2015 : PACE President deplores Khadija Ismayilova sentence in Azerbaijan
01 Sep 2015 : Statement by the Spokesperson of Secretary General Jagland on the verdict in the case of Khadija Ismayilova in Azerbaijan
21 Aug 2015 : Statement of the CoE Commissioner for Human Rights

Criminal investigation opened against journalists for solidarity campaign

Date of entry 25 May 2016 Country Turkey Category B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists Source of threat State Submitted by EFJ/IFJ , Index Alert level Level 1
25 May 2016 Turkey B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists State EFJ/IFJ , Index Level 1

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.

Journalists Detained and Barred from Entering Idomeni to Report on Treatment of Refugees

Update : 25 May 2016
Date of entry 09 Dec 2015 Country Greece Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Submitted by EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 2
09 Dec 2015 Greece E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State EFJ/IFJ Level 2

On 9 December 2015, according to verified reports from ESIEMTH (EFJ-IFJ affiliate in Greece), at least two Greek journalists and two photojournalists were detained in Idomeni just before the local police started an extended operation to remove refugees from the camp. Under the pretext of personal data authentication, policemen asked journalists to follow them to a police station far away from the field of action in order to prevent media coverage. All detained journalists were released later but access to the camp of Idomeni is still denied to journalists and other NGOs.

Updates

New 25 May 2016 : On 24 May the authorities began the operation to gradually evacuate the Idomeni refugee camp, blocking access to the area and barring all journalists from the operations, with the exception of those working for the Public Broadcaster and the National Press Agency.

State replies

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