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Secretary General: Governments must protect essential role of journalists in democracy, especially in times of crisis

World Press Freedom Day - 3 May
Strasbourg 30 April 2020
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Secretary General: Governments must protect essential role of journalists in democracy, especially in times of crisis

 

Watch the Secretary General's video statement : https://player.vimeo.com/video/413117528


New report lists 142 serious attacks on journalists in 2019

 

In a statement issued ahead of World Press Freedom Day on 3 May, Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić calls on governments to avoid unduly restricting media freedom during the COVID-19 crisis.

“Governments are facing unprecedented challenges during the COVID-19 crisis, but the situation must not be used to silence or hinder journalists,” said the Secretary General. “Media must be free to report on all aspects of the crisis. Journalists have a key role and a special responsibility for providing timely, accurate and reliable information to the public. They must be able to scrutinise the decisions of authorities in response to the pandemic. Through responsible reporting, journalists can also help prevent panic from spreading and highlight positive examples of solidarity in our societies. I have been personally impressed and encouraged by the many media reports I have seen of citizens helping each other and of carers, nurses and other ‘heroes’ on the frontline of this crisis.”

The Secretary General also expressed her concern at the findings of the annual report of the Council of Europe’s Platform for the Protection of Journalism and the Safety of Journalists, compiled by 14 media freedom NGOs, highlighting a trend of violence and intimidation against journalists over the last year.

“Unfortunately, the worrying trend of violence and intimidation against journalists observed in recent years continues. Too many journalists are in prison and there are too many cases of impunity for the killing of journalists. I am also aware of the difficult economic situation that many journalists find themselves in today", she said.

The Secretary General encouraged member states to protect the role of journalists as “watchdogs” and as an important part of the necessary checks and balances in democratic societies. The 2020 annual report of the Platform for the Protection of Journalism and the Safety of Journalists, published yesterday by 14 international NGOs, lists 142 serious threats to journalists in the 47 Council of Europe member states. This includes 33 physical attacks against journalists, 17 new cases of detention and imprisonment, 43 cases of harassment and intimidation and two new cases of impunity for murder. The NGOs express concern over a total of 22 pending cases of impunity for the killing of journalists and state that at least 105 journalists were in prison by the end of 2019.


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20 March 2018

On 20 March 2018, the European Court of Human Rights issued its Grand chamber judgment on Mehmet Altan’s case. The Court found there had been a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) and a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention for Human Rights. With regards to article 5 §1, according to the Court findings, “Mr Altan’s continued pre-trial detention, after the Constitutional Court’s clear and unambiguous judgment of 11 January 2018 (…), could not be regarded as ‘lawful’ ”. The Court held that “for another court to call into question the powers conferred on a constitutional court to give final and binding judgments on individual applications ran counter to the fundamental principles of the rule of law and legal certainty, which (…) were the cornerstones of the guarantees against arbitrariness”. Under Article 10, the Court held in particular that “there was no reason to reach a different conclusion from that of the Constitutional Court, which had found that Mr Altan’s initial and continued pre-trial detention, following his expression of his opinions, constituted a severe measure that could not be regarded as a necessary and proportionate interference in a democratic society”. The Court pointed out in particular that “criticism of governments and publication of information regarded by a country’s leaders as endangering national interests should not attract criminal charges for particularly serious offences such as belonging to or assisting a terrorist organisation, attempting to overthrow the government or the constitutional order or disseminating terrorist propaganda”.

20 March 2018

On 20 March 2018, the European Court of Human Rights issued its Grand chamber judgment on Şahin Alpay’s case. The Court found there had been a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) and a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention for Human Rights. With regards to article 5 §1, according to the Court findings, “Mr Alpay’s continued pre-trial detention, after the Constitutional Court’s clear and unambiguous judgment of 11 January 2018 (…), could not be regarded as ‘lawful’ ”. The Court held that “for another court to call into question the powers conferred on a constitutional court to give final and binding judgments on individual applications ran counter to the fundamental principles of the rule of law and legal certainty, which (…) were the cornerstones of the guarantees against arbitrariness”. Under Article 46 (binding force and execution of judgments) of the Convention, the Court held that it was incumbent on the respondent State to ensure the termination of Mr Alpay’s pre-tria detention at the earliest possible date. Under Article 10, the Court held in particular that “there was no reason to reach a different conclusion from that of the Constitutional Court, which had found that Mr Alpay’s initial and continued pre-trial detention, following his expression of his opinions, constituted a severe measure that could not be regarded as a necessary and proportionate interference in a democratic society”. The Court pointed out in particular that “criticism of governments and publication of information regarded by a country’s leaders as endangering national interests should not attract criminal charges for particularly serious offences such as belonging to or assisting a terrorist organisation, attempting to overthrow the government or the constitutional order or disseminating terrorist propaganda”.
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Follow-ups to alerts Follow-ups to alerts

22 May 2020

Investigative News Platform Slidstvo.info Hit with Criminal Probe

22 May 2020

The Work of the Ukrainian Public Broadcaster UA: PBC Blocked, all Accounts Arrested.

19 May 2020

Cartoonist Mahmoud Abbas Threatened with Death

18 May 2020

Portuguese Journalists Banned from Entering Spain

18 May 2020

Exiled Pakistani Journalist Sajid Hussain Baloch Found Dead

18 May 2020

Suspected Plot to Attack an "Irish News" Journalist

18 May 2020

Graffiti Threatens Safety of Northern Ireland Journalist Leona O'Neill

18 May 2020

Continued Impunity for Murder of Journalist Martin O'Hagan in 2001

18 May 2020

Journalist Lyra McKee Killed in Northern Ireland

12 May 2020

Polish Clothing Company LLP Files Lawsuit against two Polish Journalists for Newsweek Poland Article

11 May 2020

Loyalist Threats against Journalists in Northern Ireland

11 May 2020

Fox TV Banned from Broadcast, Anchor Fatih Portakal Faces Three-Year Imprisonment

11 May 2020

Turkish Radio and Television High Council Cancels Broadcast of Northern Cypriot Diyalog TV

11 May 2020

Journalist Ana Lalic Detained Overnight after Reporting on Conditions in Hospital

11 May 2020

Journalist Tetiana Sivokon Attacked while Reporting on Sale of Protective Masks

6 May 2020

Emergency Restrictions Force Media to Suppress Independent Information on COVID-19

6 May 2020

Emergency Restrictions Force Media to Suppress Independent Information on COVID-19

24 April 2020

Chechen President Threatens Journalist Elena Milashina with Death

17 April 2020

Bulgarian Newspaper Editor Slavi Angelov Severely Beaten in Attack by Masked Men in Central Sofia

17 April 2020

Satabank Co-Owner Files SLAPPs against Maltese Blogger Manuel Delia and Times of Malta in Bulgaria

16 April 2020

Threats and Insults against Journalists in Faktor.ba Newsroom

15 April 2020

'La Repubblica' Chief Editor Carlo Verdelli under Police Protection after Receiving Death Threats

15 April 2020

Arson Attack against Holos Sambirshchyny Newspaper

7 April 2020

Slovenian Prime Minister Attacks Radiotelevizija Slovenija (RTVS) on Social Media

3 April 2020

Journalist Ana Lalic Detained Overnight after Reporting on Conditions in Hospital

1 April 2020

Government Plan to Strongly Reduce Funding for Public Service Broadcasting

31 March 2020

Bulgarian Newspaper Editor Slavi Angelov Severely Beaten in Attack by Masked Men in Central Sofia

31 March 2020

Satabank Co-Owner Files SLAPPs against Maltese Blogger Manuel Delia and Times of Malta in Bulgaria

28 March 2020

Slovenian Prime Minister Attacks Radiotelevizija Slovenija (RTVS) on Social Media

27 March 2020

Slovenian Journalist Blaž Zgaga Targeted by a Defamation and Hate Campaign Led by the New Government

27 March 2020

Media Freedom Advocates Raise Alarm over UK Counter-Terror Bill

27 March 2020

Proposal Set To Increase Prison Sentences For Leaking Official Documents

25 March 2020

Emergency Restrictions Force Media to Suppress Independent Information on COVID-19

24 March 2020

Hungary Seeks Power to Jail Journalists over ‘False Information’ in COVID-19 Coverage

23 March 2020

Hungary Seeks Power to Jail Journalists over ‘False Information’ in COVID-19 Coverage

20 March 2020

Continued Detention of WikiLeaks Founder and Publisher Julian Assange

20 March 2020

Journalists Ian Cobain and Solomon Hughes Denied Accreditation to the Defense and Security Equipment International (DSEI) Arms Fair

19 March 2020

Bulgarian Newspaper Editor Slavi Angelov Severely Beaten in Attack by Masked Men in Central Sofia

18 March 2020

Chechen Blogger Tumso Abdurakhmanov Assaulted

18 March 2020

Exiled Journalist Afgan Mukhtarli Abducted, Detained and Faces Charges in Azerbaijan

16 March 2020

Pipe Bomb Attack on Cyprus MC Digital Media News Agency Offices

12 March 2020

Public Radio Journalist Sanctioned for Refusing to Broadcast Discriminatory Information

10 March 2020

Slovak Columnist Charged with Criminal Defamation for Criticism of Priest

2 March 2020

The Work of the Ukrainian Public Broadcaster UA: PBC Blocked, all Accounts Arrested.

27 February 2020

Spanish Journalist Raquel Guillán Assaulted While Reporting Live on TV

27 February 2020

Journalist Katarzyna Wlodkowska Faces Investigation Following Report on Assassination of Mayor

27 February 2020

Thomas Jacobi, a Journalist Working for La Croix and Deutsche Welle, Attacked in Athens by Far-Right Protesters

14 February 2020

Two Journalism Students Arrested in Lille while Photographing Police Officers

14 February 2020

A French Police Union Releases a List of Journalists Described as Enemies of the National Police

11 February 2020

Thomas Jacobi, a Journalist Working for La Croix and Deutsche Welle, Attacked in Athens by Far-Right Protesters

27 January 2020

Ukraine’s Draft Law on Combating Disinformation and Regulating Media Activity Threatens Freedom of Speech

24 January 2020

Head of the Russian Republic of Chuvashia says Critical Journalists Should be “Wiped Out”

24 January 2020

Russian State News Agency Sputnik Shuts Tallinn Bureau Under Pressure From Estonian Police

23 January 2020

Thomas Jacobi, a Journalist Working for La Croix and Deutsche Welle, Attacked in Athens by Far-Right Protesters

21 January 2020

Journalist Miodrag Sovilj Targeted by Smear Campaign after Interviewing President Vučić

14 January 2020

New “Anti-defamation” Legislative Package Threatens Online Media Freedom

10 January 2020

Journalist Anđela Đikanović Charged with “Causing Panic and Disorder”

9 January 2020

Russian State News Agency Sputnik Shuts Tallinn Bureau Under Pressure From Estonian Police

6 January 2020

Information Website joqalbania.com Blocked

31 December 2019

Blogger Mehman Huseynov Beaten by Police

20 December 2019

Crimean Tatar Journalists Osman Arifmemetov, Remzi Bekirov and Rustem Sheikhaliev Detained by Russian Authorities

19 December 2019

Journalist Nadège Picard Targeted by Police Fire

19 December 2019

Government Decided to Abolish Public Funding to the Press

19 December 2019

Deputy Prime Minister Di Maio and former MP Battista Insulted Journalists

19 December 2019

Police Searched the Home of Journalist Salvo Palazzolo

19 December 2019

Minister Di Maio Threatens to Reduce Indirect Public Funding to the Press

19 December 2019

Journalist Enrico Nascimbeni Attacked with a Knife in Milan

19 December 2019

Italy: Journalist Sentenced to Four months in Jail for "Trespassing"

19 December 2019

Journalist Daniele Lupo slapped by former Minister

19 December 2019

Italian Newspaper La Repubblica's Headquarters Attacked by Forza Nuova Supporters

19 December 2019

Italian Investigative Journalist Suffered Data Theft In Home Burglary

17 December 2019

Attack on Online Portal Hayeli.am

17 December 2019

New “Anti-defamation” Legislative Package Threatens Online Media Freedom

17 December 2019

Leader of La France Insoumise Party Calls to ‘Badmouth’ France Info Journalists

17 December 2019

Violence Against Reporters During 11 Days of Protests in Armenia

17 December 2019

Lack of Effective Investigation into Police Violence and Obstruction of Journalist’s Work

16 December 2019

Reporters Michael Colborne and Oleksiy Kuzmenko Threatened and Harassed

16 December 2019

Ukrainian Court Rules to Block Access to 17 Online Media

16 December 2019

Threats to the Independence of the Daily "Le Monde"

16 December 2019

Journalist and Blogger Igor Stakh Beaten in Ukraine

16 December 2019

Violent Attack Against France 3 Cameraman

10 December 2019

New “Anti-defamation” Legislative Package Threatens Online Media Freedom

6 December 2019

Journalists Locked Inside the Office of the Prime Minister of Malta Following a Press Conference

5 December 2019

AfD’s Politician Björn Höcke Threatens Journalist of ‘Massive consequences’ over Interview Questions

4 December 2019

Belgian Journalists Nicolas Lahaut and Adrien Heylen Fined and Detained by the Police

4 December 2019

Journalists Covering the G7 Summit Victims of Abusive Police Confiscations and Controls

4 December 2019

Duma Committee Approves Legislation to Label Individual Journalists “Foreign Agents”

2 December 2019

Journalists Locked Inside the Office of the Prime Minister of Malta Following a Press Conference

2 December 2019

Investigative Journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia Killed by Car Bomb

27 November 2019

New Restrictions on Journalists Working in Hungarian Parliament

27 November 2019

Journalists Banned from Covering the Evacuation of Amazon France's Headquarters

20 November 2019

Duma Committee Approves Legislation to Label Individual Journalists “Foreign Agents”

18 November 2019

TV Reporter Robert Bas Jailed for Refusing to Disclose Source at Murder Trial

14 November 2019

Suspension of Bulgarian National Radio Broadcasts Points to Vulnerability of Editorial Independence

13 November 2019

Ahmet Altan and Mehmet Altan Detained for Words Used on TV

13 November 2019

Ahmet Altan and Mehmet Altan Detained for Words Used on TV

8 November 2019

Violent Arrest of Photo Reporter Albert Garcia

8 November 2019

Twelve Journalists Victims of Violence on the Sidelines of Demonstrations in Catalonia

5 November 2019

Journalists Arrested in Major Clampdown following Failed Coup in Turkey

28 October 2019

Slovak Investigative Journalist Jan Kuciak Killed at Home

24 October 2019

Journalists Detained and Subjected to Police Violence while Covering Peaceful Protests

24 October 2019

Draft law Punishing Disclosure of Classified Information Threatens Journalists

21 October 2019

Twelve Journalists Victims of Violence on the Sidelines of Demonstrations in Catalonia

21 October 2019

Ukrainian Journalist Detained and her Equipment Seized by Rome Police

11 October 2019

Brutal Attack on the Ukrainian National News Agency Ukrinform

11 October 2019

TV Channel '112 Ukraine' Kyiv Office Targeted by a Grenade

11 October 2019

Cameraman Vadim Makaryuk Severely Assaulted

10 October 2019

Italian Riot Police Beat La Repubblica Reporter Stefano Origone

7 October 2019

Russia Investigates Reporter Svetlana Prokopyeva, Seizes Property over Allegations of "Justifying Terrorism"

3 October 2019

Football Fans Stormed Radio Sarajevo Newsroom and Forced Staff to Remove News Item

19 September 2019

Slovakia Seeks to Introduce Right of Reply for Politicians

18 September 2019

Journalist Gordan Duhaček Fined for ‘Anti-Police’ Twitter Message

13 September 2019

Cumhuriyet Newspaper Employees arrested on Terrorism-Related Charges

9 September 2019

RIA Novosti Journalist Kyrylo Vyshynsky Held on Treason Allegations in Ukraine

28 August 2019

At Least Nine Journalists Detained for Reporting on Protests against Government-Appointed Trustees

27 August 2019

Reporters Atanas Tchobanov and Asen Yordanov Subjected to Judicial Probe

27 August 2019

Bulgaria: Journalists Injured by Police During Protest

27 August 2019

Bulgaria: Investigative journalist attacked

27 August 2019

Bulgarian Investigative Journalist's Car Set on Fire following Warnings about TV Reports

27 August 2019

Journalist Stoyan Tonchev Brutally Attacked

22 August 2019

Italian Interior Minister's Security Escort Officer Threatens a Journalist

20 August 2019

N1 TV Reporter in Kosovo Zana Cimili Received Death Threats

16 August 2019

Mass Surveillance Operation on Slovak Journalists

14 August 2019

Austrian News Anchor Targeted in Intimidation Campaign

13 August 2019

WDR Journalist Georg Restle Receives Death Threat After Criticising Right-Wing Party AfD

8 August 2019

Journalist Nadia Daam Harassed and Target of Death Threats on Social Network

1 August 2019

Journalist Ariane Chemin Summoned by Intelligence Services

1 August 2019

Three Journalists Summoned for Compromising National Defense Classification

29 July 2019

New “Anti-defamation” Legislative Package Threatens Online Media Freedom

25 July 2019

Weekly Athens Voice Attacked by Anarchist Group

18 July 2019

Polish Court Bans Reporter Anna Wilk from Journalism for 3 years in Criminal Libel Suit

15 July 2019

Greek CNN Reporter Mina Karamitrou's Car Destroyed by Bomb

11 July 2019

Romanian Investigative Journalist Diana Oncioiu Receives Anonymous Death Threat

9 July 2019

Police Assault on the Journalist Enver Doçi

8 July 2019

Draft Bill to Allow Blocking of Internet Sites Without a Court Order

4 July 2019

Slovakia Seeks to Introduce Right of Reply for Politicians

2 July 2019

Austrian Politician Heinz-Christian Strache Sues German Newspapers over 'Ibiza Video'

27 June 2019

Ukrainian Journalist Vadym Komarov in Coma Following Assault

27 June 2019

Attempt to Search Mediapart's Newsroom

27 June 2019

Arson Attack against France Bleu Isère Radio Station

21 June 2019

German Draft Legislation Would Enable Intelligence Agencies to Spy on Journalists

19 June 2019

Russian Editor Arrested, Allegedly Injured in Custody; Newspaper Raided

14 June 2019

Journalist Roberto Saviano Threatened with Withdrawal of his Police Protection

11 June 2019

Finland: Court Convicts Journalist Johanna Vehkoo on Defamation Charges

11 June 2019

Finland: Unclear Legal Framework for Guaranteeing Journalists’ Rights Covering Protests

10 June 2019

Investigative Journalist Ivan Golunov, Known For His Investigations Into Political Corruption, Arrested For “Selling Drugs”

7 June 2019

Investigative Journalist Ivan Golunov, Known For His Investigations Into Political Corruption, Arrested For “Selling Drugs”

7 June 2019

Italy: Journalist Valentino Gonzato Assaulted, Robbed while Reporting in Park

6 June 2019

Polish Court Bans Reporter Anna Wilk from Journalism for 3 years in Criminal Libel Suit

4 June 2019

Albania: Journalists and Photographers Injured by Police During Anti-Government Protests

27 May 2019

Public TV Building Stormed by Anti-Government Protesters

7 May 2019

Georgian TV Journalist Assaulted by Security Services and Deported

26 April 2019

Head of Public Broadcaster Sacked

25 April 2019

Proposals for Online Harms Regulation Risk Impacting Media Freedom

25 April 2019

Prva TV Crew Attacked in Leskovac, Serbia

25 April 2019

Intimidation Campaign against NUNS (Independent Journalists Association of Serbia)

25 April 2019

Serbian Reporter Lidija Valtner Attacked During New Serbian President’s Inauguration

25 April 2019

Impunity in the Case of the Murder of Dada Vujasinovic

23 April 2019

Russia: President Putin Signs into Law Russia’s “Fake News” and “Internet Insults” Bans

10 April 2019

Public TV Building Stormed by Anti-Government Protesters

4 April 2019

Özgür Gündem Journalists Targeted by Criminal Investigation

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