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“Journalists matter”: Council of Europe launches campaign for the safety of journalists

The Council of Europe has launched a continent-wide Campaign for the Safety of Journalists to be run under the slogan “Journalists matter”, aimed at improving the safety of journalists and protecting media freedom across the continent, as well as raising awareness about the role journalists play in safeguarding a democratic and pluralistic society.

The campaign, expected to last until the end of 2027, addresses the continued degradation of press freedom across Europe, reflected in increasing cases of violence and intimidation against journalists and impunity of the offenders. The Council of Europe’s Platform to promote the protection of journalism and safety of journalists has been reporting this trend over the years: it has registered more than 1,600 alerts concerning serious threats to the safety of journalists and media freedom in Europe since 2015.

Council of Europe Secretary General, Marija Pejčinović Burić, said: “It is almost impossible to think of a true democracy without diverse and independent media acting as “public watchdogs” and generating public debate. With the campaign, we aim to help governments to protect journalists so they can do their work without undue interference, free from intimidation and violence, and perform their essential role in society.”

The campaign’s main goal is to improve the safety conditions that journalists work in across Europe, notably through the adoption and implementation of national action plans for the protection of journalists and enhanced legal and institutional standards. Other crucial campaign objectives are setting up effective remedies at national level to address violations of media freedom, improving the investigation of crimes against journalists, and ensuring the proper sanctioning of perpetrators.

The campaign is mainly targeted at journalists, press councils, organisations active in promoting and protecting media freedom, media outlets, judges, prosecutors, law enforcement, public officials, politicians, civil society and educational institutions, but it will also reach a wider public.

The campaign was launched on the first day of an international conference organised in Riga, in the framework of the Latvian Presidency of the Council of Europe´s Committee of Ministers, under the theme “The Pen is mightier than the sword? Meeting today´s challenges to freedom of expression and the safety of journalists”.

 Press release
“Journalists matter”: Council of Europe launches campaign for the safety of journalists

 Video on the protection of journalists 

Strasbourg 9 October 2023
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The action “Protecting freedom of expression and of the media in Serbia (PRO-FREX)" enables the beneficiary institutions and civil society organisations in Serbia to progress towards meeting their reform agendas in the field of freedom of expression and freedom of media, in line with the European standards.

It aims at contributing to an improved environment for the exercise, in particular by journalists and media actors, of their rights of freedom of expression, in a more pluralistic and safer media environment, in line with the standards as set by Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

This action is implemented within the joint programme of the European Union and the Council of Europe “Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Türkiye” running from 2023 until 2026.

What are the goals and objectives of the action?

  • to promote freedom of expression and freedom of the media and to improve the application of European standards
  • to enhance the protection of journalists and contribute to the creation of an enabling, safer and more pluralistic media environment
  • to strengthen the skills and knowledge of the actors who are responsible for applying such standards as part of their daily work

Who benefits from the action?

  • independent authorities in the field of media regulation (Regulatory Authority for Electronic Media) and access to information (Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Protection of Personal Data) and their staff
  • associations of journalists and media actors
  • professionals such as judges, prosecutors, police officers, lawyers, broadcasters, journalists, other media actors, university students
  • the society of Serbia

How does the action work?

  • through the provision of legal advice to improve the alignment of legal and regulatory frameworks to the relevant European standards
  • by promotion and production of research and policy support
  • through awareness-raising events among duty bearers and rights holders of the relevant European standards
  • through capacity-building activities for the various professional categories, anchored in the European standards and the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR)
  • by facilitating regional dialogue and exchange of good practices, in synergy with the regional action

What do we expect to achieve?

  • the employees of the Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Protection of Personal Data will reflect in their work an improved knowledge of the European Convention on Human Rights and the ECtHR case-law, related to access to information and protection of private and family life (personal data)
  • professional capacities of the Regulatory Authority for Electronic Media employees will be further strengthened, on the revised EU Audio-visual Media Services Directive and its enhanced standards on the protection of minors, audio-visual commercial communication, media literacy, harmful content, hate speech, and the ECtHR jurisprudence
  • journalists will strengthen their knowledge on domestic legal mechanisms and the ECtHR procedures, in terms of addressing threats and attacks; this will be supported with development of recommendations on how to address the strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPP)
  • the society at large in Serbia will benefit from an improved environment for the exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and access to information

What is the budget of the action?

The total budget of the action is 720 000 EUR.

The budget allocated to the overall Horizontal Facility programme amounts to ca. 41 million EUR (85% funded by the European Union, 15% by the Council of Europe).

How to get more information?

About Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Türkiye

The “Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Türkiye” is a joint initiative of the European Union and the Council of Europe that enables the Western Balkans Beneficiaries and Türkiye to meet their reform agendas in the fields of human rights, rule of law and democracy and to comply with the European standards, which is also a priority for the EU enlargement process.