Media freedom alerts

 

Estonian Authorities Turn Down Three Requests for Accreditation from Rossiya Segodnya to Cover EU meeting

Update: 31 Aug 2017 State replied
Year 28 Aug 2017 Country Estonia Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 2
28 Aug 2017 Estonia E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State EFJ/IFJ Level 2

The Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union refused three requests for accreditation from Russian state owned news agency Rossiya Segodnya to cover the informal meeting of the EU ministers of Foreign Affairs in Tallinn (Estonia) to take place on 7-8 September 2017. The requests were filed by the Brussels based correspondent Vladimir Dobrovolskiy, and by Moscow based journalists Maria Kiseleva and Anastasia Sedelnikova. No explanations were provided by the Estonian authorities for their refusal. Sergey Kochetkov, first deputy editor-in-Chief of Rossiya Segodnya, said that this is the first time that the news agency face such restrictions in covering high level EU events .

State replies

Follow-ups

31 Aug 2017 : OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media urges Estonia to reconsider denied accreditation to three Russian journalists for EU meeting.

Bulgarian Financial Supervision Commission Tries to Silence Newspapers Working on Banking Disclosures

Update: 31 Aug 2017 Resolved
Year 02 Apr 2015 Country Bulgaria Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner RSF , AEJ Alert level Level 2
02 Apr 2015 Bulgaria E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State RSF , AEJ Level 2

The Financial Supervision Commission is an administrative body established to maintain "stability and transparency on the non-banking financial sector". The Commission has distinguished itself by ordering medias to pay record fines to media outlets and news websites in 2014, such as Economedia (weekly Capital) for 80000 euros, Alpiko publishing (zovnews.bg) and Konkurent news (Konkurent newspaper). investigative news website Bivol.bg, Wikileaks' partner in the Balkans, was also fined and asked to reveal sources. The Bulgarian banking sector has been put through important "turbulences" during summer 2014. In response to a wave of panic, the Financial Supervision Commission has launched a war against the media. Prevailing itself of protecting the stability of the banking sector, the administrative authority has contributed to silence the debate on mismanagement of the banks by sanctioning with heavy fines those who were publishing "unofficial news" about financial difficulties in the sector.

Resolved On 31 August 2017, after consideration of the authorities’ response and follow-up to this alert, the partner organisations of the Platform declared this case to be "resolved”, concluding that it was no longer an active threat to media freedom.

State replies

Relevant CoE instruments Disclaimer

22 Jun 2015 : Report by Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, following his visit to Bulgaria, from 9 to 11 February 2015. CommDH(2015)12. 22 June 2015

Three Media Outlets Closed by Statutory Decree Number 693

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Year 25 Aug 2017 Country Turkey Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ , RSF Alert level Level 2
25 Aug 2017 Turkey E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State EFJ/IFJ , RSF Level 2
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Two new statutory decrees (numbered 693 and 694) prepared by Turkey's Council of Ministers, as part of the State of Emergency, have been published in the Turkish Official Gazette on 25 August 2017. Based on statutory decree number 693, three media outlets - Dicle Medya Haber Ajansi, Gazete Sujin and Rojeva Medya - have been closed. Movables and all sorts of assets, documents and rights that belong to the closed institutes and institutions will be transferred for free and without compensation to the Treasury.

Ukrainian Journalist Missing in Donbass

Update: 16 Aug 2017 State replied
Year 22 Jun 2017 Country Ukraine Category B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists Source of threat Unknown Partner EFJ/IFJ , AEJ , Index , RSF Alert level Level 1
22 Jun 2017 Ukraine B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists Unknown EFJ/IFJ , AEJ , Index , RSF Level 1

Ukrainian journalist Stanyslav Aseev went missing in the Donbass region on 3 June 2017. Since then, the journalist has not been answering phone calls, his apartment in Donetsk has been ransacked and his professional laptop has gone missing, his family and friends told the media. They fear the journalist has been detained by representatives of the so called “Ministry of State Security” of the self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic". Reports said that Aseev went missing on the day he was expected to send material to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, which showed life in the self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic" and never arrived. Aseev has been working under the pen name of Stanyslav Vasin since 2014 and has been reporting from Donetsk for Radio Svoboda, Dzerkalo Tyzhnya, Ukrayinska Pravda and Ukrainian Week. On 20 June, representatives from the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU) and the Russian Union of Journalists (RUJ) expressed their deep concern for the safety and fate of Stanyslav Aseev and called for his immediate release. Alert : 1 detention

Updates

19 Jul 2017 : On July 15, it was reported to independent broadcaster Hromadske Radio that Aseev has been detained by separatists. Yegor Firsov, a friend of Aseev and a former Ukrainian lawmaker, stated that the separatists have charged the journalist with espionage and that, if convicted, Aseev could be jailed for up to 14 years.

State replies

16 Aug 2017 : Reply from the Government of Ukraine

Follow-ups

28 Jul 2017 : OSCE Media Freedom Representative calls for immediate release of detained Donetsk journalist Stanislav Aseev.

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

Update: 11 Aug 2017 State replied
Year 17 Sep 2015 Country Ukraine Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ , Index Alert level Level 2
17 Sep 2015 Ukraine E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State EFJ/IFJ , Index 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 : 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.

State replies

11 Aug 2017 : Reply from the Government of Ukraine

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

Threat of Closure of the Public Broadcast Media Service

Update: 10 Aug 2017 No reply yet
Year 18 Apr 2017 Country Bosnia and Herzegovina Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ , AEJ , Index , RSF Alert level Level 2
18 Apr 2017 Bosnia and Herzegovina E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State EFJ/IFJ , AEJ , Index , RSF Level 2
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The Radio and Television of Bosnia-Herzegovina (BHRT) is facing possible shut down due to the absence of an agreed plan for sustainable funding of public media service. The BHRT, which is marred in financial difficulties including debts to staff and to service providers such as the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), has been operating a heavily reduced service since June 2016, only broadcasting sports competitions and reruns of old programmes. The EBU reportedly has launched a lawsuit for payment of debts accumulated to unsustainable amounts and placed BHRT under sanction 3, stopping its services to the public broadcaster. BHRT is now under heightened risk of closure.

Updates

10 Aug 2017 : In August 2017, the Radio and Television of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BHRT) signed a deal with electric company Elektroprivreda – JP EP, establishing from that month onwards the collection of TV license fees through electricity bills. The agreement will be offered to other domestic electric companies as well, thus filling the gap that was left by the expiration in 2016 of the previous model for collecting the license fee.

Follow-ups

16 Jun 2017 : CoE Commissioner for Human Rights says that greater efforts are needed to enhance social cohesion and media freedom in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
02 May 2017 : The CoE Commissioner for Human Rights details the prerequisites for well-funded and strong public service media.
18 Apr 2017 : OSCE Freedom of the Media Representative says that shutdown of public broadcaster in Bosnia and Herzegovina is neither a solution nor an option

Relevant CoE instruments Disclaimer

15 Dec 2016 : Recommendation CM/Rec(2012)1 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on public service media governance (Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 15 February 2012 at the 1134th meeting of the Ministers' Deputies)

Polish Defence Minister Seeks Criminal Charges against Journalist for 'Coercion', 'Insult' over Exposé of Associates' Contacts

Update: 03 Aug 2017 State replied
Year 13 Jul 2017 Country Poland Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner IPI , Article 19 , AEJ , EFJ/IFJ , RSF Alert level Level 2
13 Jul 2017 Poland E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State IPI , Article 19 , AEJ , EFJ/IFJ , RSF Level 2

The military department of Poland’s National Prosecutor's Office confirmed it received a request from the defence ministry to investigate Gazeta Wyborcza journalist Tomasz Piątek for using “violence or illegal threats” and “public insults” against a “constitutional authority of the Republic of Poland” over Piątek’s book “Macierewicz and his secrets”, which focuses on Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz. The book, which was published in late June 2017, examines Macierewicz’s network of aides, collaborators and political associates. It accuses many of them of alleged contacts, both political and financial, with Russian entities close to the Kremlin, Russia’s military intelligence agency and the “Solntsevo” international criminal organisation. The ministry reportedly cited three Criminal Code provisions in seeking charges. Art. 244 prevents use of violence or an illegal threat to coerce a public official to undertake or abstain from legal official activity. It is punishable by up to three years in prison. Art. 226 imposes a fine or up to two years of imprisonment for publicly insulting or humiliating a constitutional authority of the Republic of Poland. Art. 231a extends to public officials who are unlawfully attacked because of their position the same legal protection that they would enjoy if attacked during or in connection with the performance of their public duties.

State replies

Follow-ups

03 Aug 2017 : OSCE media freedom representative concerned about complaint filed against journalist by Poland’s Defence Ministry

France Legalises Mass Surveillance of its Citizens

Update: 03 Aug 2017 State replied
Year 06 May 2015 Country France Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner Article 19 , EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 2
06 May 2015 France E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State Article 19 , EFJ/IFJ Level 2

On 5 May 2015, the French National Assembly voted on the surveillance bill which gives the Prime Minister the power to massively monitor the French population without judicial control. The bill, adopted under an accelerated procedure, was met with opposition from a number of civil and professional organizations (the journalists’ unions SNJ and SNJ-CGT, the European Federation of Journalists, the Human Rights League, Amnesty International, two Unions of Magistrates, the Union of Lawyers, the Defender of Rights, the National Commission for Computing and Liberties ...). The text legalizes the practice by the intelligence services, of a particularly broad and intrusive surveillance on the privacy of citizens, with no real counter-power, and for purposes unrelated to terrorism. This law definitively compromises the protection of journalists' sources and it is an obvious deterrent to whistleblowers.

Updates

05 Oct 2015 : On 3 October 2015, the Law on Surveillance entered into force, after the Official Journal published the Presidential decree, appointing the members of the National Commission for the Intelligence Techniques. On the same day, 180 journalists of the legal press association announced that they were appealing to the European Court of Human Rights, arguing that the law has wide implications for civil liberties and asking the Court to strike down the sweeping powers the law gives to intelligence agencies.
22 May 2015 : Journalists respond to the French Authorities on the Draft Law on Intelligence

State replies

12 May 2015 : Reply by the French authorities

Follow-ups

03 Aug 2017 : The European Court of Human Rights decided to communicate to the French Government several applications lodged by journalists and lawyers which concern the French Intelligence Act of 24 July 2015. On 27 April and 4 July 2017, the Court put questions to the parties under Articles 8 (right to respect for private life and correspondence), 10 (freedom of expression) and 13 (right to an effective remedy) of the Convention.
20 May 2015 : The Commissioner for Human Rights addressed the French Senate on surveillance bill
06 May 2015 : Press Release from OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media
13 Apr 2015 : Statement by Commissioner of Human Rights

Relevant CoE instruments Disclaimer

Imprisonment of Two Senior Editors of the Turkish Daily Cumhuriyet, Can Dündar and Erdem Gül

Update: 31 Jul 2017 State replied
Year 27 Nov 2015 Country Turkey Category B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists Source of threat State Partner RSF , AEJ , EFJ/IFJ , Index Alert level Level 1
27 Nov 2015 Turkey B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists State RSF , AEJ , EFJ/IFJ , Index Level 1

On 26 November 2015, at the request of Istanbul prosecutor’s office, Can Dündar, editor of the daily Cumhuriyet and its Ankara representative Erdem Gül were taken before a judge and placed in pre-trial detention on charges of membership of a terrorist organization, espionage and divulging state secrets. Dündar and Gül were investigated in connection with an article published in May 2015 about allegations that Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) had been delivering arms to rebels in Syria. The newspaper produced a video and photos to support the claim. In June 2015, after Cumhuriyet published the video, President Erdoğan had personally filed a complaint accusing Dündar of spying, and publicly vowed that he would ‘not get away with it.’ Since then, Cumhuriyet and Dündar were being investigated on the basis of a criminal complaint referring to several articles of the Turkish penal code. The imprisonment of the two journalists is additional evidence that the Turkish authorities are suppressing independent journalism in Turkey. In April 2015, Can Dündar was already the subject of an alert on the Council of Europe platform, regarding his prosecution on charges of insulting Turkey’s President Erdoğan and violating the confidentiality of an investigation. Dündar had published a series of articles about a corruption investigation by prosecutors in which close associates of Mr Erdoğan were implicated. The high number of lawsuits initiated on behalf of President Erdoğan against journalists critical of the government are consistent with a concerted attempt to intimidate his opponents to remain silent about issues which are manifestly of public interest.

Updates

28 Jul 2017 : On 28 July 2017, an Istanbul court issued an interim judgment in the trial of 17 Cumhuriyet journalists and executives. This judgment states that the arrest warrant formerly issued against Can Dündar, who is tried in absentia, remains further in effect.
01 Jun 2016 : The Istanbul 14th High Criminal Court’s ruling from May 2016 was appealed by the two journalists. The case is pending before the Supreme Court of Appeals. Can Dündar fled the country to seek asylum in Germany. Erdem Gül is waiting for the appeal verdict.
10 May 2016 : On 6 May 2016, the Istanbul 14th High Criminal Court convicted Can Dündar and Erdem Gül --the former for ‘obtaining and revealing state secrets’, the latter for ‘revealing state secrets’. They were respectively sentenced to five years and 10 months and five years in prison. Shortly before the Court's decision earlier that day, Dundar survived an attempted shooting where the gunman instead wounded another journalist reporting on the Court case. Both journalists were acquitted of charges of trying to overthrow the government and espionage. But the Court ordered that the charges of “knowingly and willfully” helping a terrorist organization must be separated from the trial in order to await a verdict in a separate case against the two men on charges of supporting terrorist organisations. The Court has also ordered the lifting of the ban on the two journalists’ rights to leave the country and ruled that their political rights, including the right to vote, should be restored.
29 Mar 2016 : On 25 March 2016, an Istanbul court ruled for the whole trial of Can Dündar and Erdem Gül to be held in camera. The hearing was adjourned until 1st April 2016.
26 Feb 2016 : Can Dündar and Erdem Gül were freed in the early hours of 26 February 2016 after Turkey's Constitutional Court ruled that their detentions had violated their rights.
25 Feb 2016 : On 25 February 2016, by a 12-3 vote, the plenary of the Turkish Constitutional Court ruled that Can Dündar and Erdem Gül's right to freedom and security, right to express and disseminate thought, and the freedom of press as guaranteed by Articles 19, 26 and 28 of the Constitution had been violated.
28 Jan 2016 : On 27 January 2016, during a court hearing in Istanbul, prosecution demanded “aggravated life imprisonment and imprisonment up to 30 years” for Can Dündar and Erdem Gül.
01 Dec 2015 : RSF launches international appeal for release of ​Cumhuriyet journalists

State replies

15 Dec 2015 : Statement of the Permanent Representative of Turkey to the Council of Europe to the 1242nd meeting of the Ministrers' Deputies
07 Dec 2015 : Response of the Turkish Government (information provided by the Ministry of Justice)

Follow-ups

25 Jul 2017 : OSCE media freedom representative calls on Turkey to release imprisoned journalists
13 May 2016 : The Council of Europe Secretary General refers to the case of Can Dündar and Erdem Gül in his address to the Committee of Ministers on 11 May 2016.
10 Mar 2016 : The Monitoring Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe expresses its serious concern at recent developments in Turkey with respect to restrictions on media freedom and access to pluralistic information, challenges to the decisions of the Constitutional Court.
03 Mar 2016 : Secretary General welcomes the release of Can Dündar and Erdem Gül in his address to the Committee of Ministers
26 Feb 2016 : Secretary General Jagland welcomes the release of Can Dündar and Erdem Gül.
14 Jan 2016 : CoE Secretary General mentions the continuing detention of Can Dündar and Erdem Gül in his allocution to the Committee of Ministers about the outcome of the meeeting of the informal working group on freedom of expression in Turkey
03 Dec 2015 : CoE Secretary General focuses on the arrest of Can Dündar and Erdem Gül in his address to the Committee of Ministers
30 Nov 2015 : Hürriyet Daily News article quoting the statement by the spokesperson of European Council Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland
27 Nov 2015 : OSCE Representative condemns arrest of journalists Can Dündar and Erdem Gül, urges Turkey not to proceed with charges
27 Nov 2015 : Ingebjørg Godskesen and Nataša Vuckovic, co-rapporteurs for PACE’s post-monitoring dialogue with Turkey question arrests of leading journalists
27 Nov 2015 : Statement by Nils Muiznieks, CoE Commissioner for Human Rights

Relevant CoE instruments Disclaimer

Bulgarian TV Presenter Assaulted and Injured in Central Sofia

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Year 28 Jul 2017 Country Bulgaria Category A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Source of threat Unknown Partner AEJ , Index Alert level Level 1
28 Jul 2017 Bulgaria A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Unknown AEJ , Index Level 1
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On 25 July 2017, Ivo Nikodimov, a presenter for Bulgarian National Television, was attacked in broad daylight by three unknown assailants in Borisova Gradina park in central Sofia. The three men, thought to be in their 20s, beat him, breaking his nose and causing other facial injuries before escaping from the scene. The journalist underwent surgery for his broken nose in a nearby hospital. Later he reported that the attackers did not reply when he demanded to know why they were attacking him. None of his belongings were taken. Mr Nikodimov is a nationally-known public figure and an experienced reporter on criminal and legal affairs, who has received threats in the past because of his work. So far investigators have not found evidence linking this attack to the journalist’s work, but a senior Interior Ministry official characterised the assault as a hate crime. Bulgaria’s media regulator, the Council of Electronic Media, expressed alarm at the attack on a prominent journalist, saying that acts of violence against well-known figures are aimed at instilling fear. Bulgarian National TV stated that aggression against journalists is tantamount to an attack on free expression and called for the culprits to be found and punished. One day before the attack on Ivo Nikodimov two notaries suffered a similar assault in the same area. The authorities say investigations are ongoing into the incidents.

Failure to Punish the Perpetrators of Attack on Journalists in Berdyansk

Update: 21 Jul 2017 State replied
Year 30 Mar 2017 Country Ukraine Category D. Impunity Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ , AEJ Alert level Level 1
30 Mar 2017 Ukraine D. Impunity State EFJ/IFJ , AEJ Level 1

TV journalist Volodymyr Holovatiy and his cameraman were attacked on 10 June 2016 in Berdyansk, Zaporizhia region. The attack, according to the journalists, happened in full view of police officers who failed to intervene. The local TV crew, had gone to cover the seizure of a hotel building in a commercial dispute, when unidentified men in military uniform attacked them, took away the camera and seized the memory card from the cameraman. The two were admitted to the hospital for treatment, where doctors diagnosed a brain contusion in the case of Volodymyr Holovatiy. The journalist filed a complaint with the local branch of the National Police. The case is investigated by Berdyansk City District Prosecutor's Office. The National Union of Journalists of Ukraine considers this case as a major impunity case. To date, the crime remains unpunished and no one has been arrested in connection with this assault.

State replies

21 Jul 2017 : Reply from the Government of Ukraine

Journalist Pavel Sheremet Killed in Car Explosion

Update: 20 Jul 2017 State replied
Year 20 Jul 2016 Country Ukraine Category A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Source of threat Unknown Partner Index , Article 19 , AEJ , EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 1
20 Jul 2016 Ukraine A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Unknown Index , Article 19 , AEJ , EFJ/IFJ Level 1

Pavel Sheremet, a journalist working for online investigative newspaper Ukrayinska Pravda and Radio Vesti, was killed in a car explosion on Wednesday 20 July 2016. According to Ukrayinska Pravda, the car blew up on the corner of Khmelnytsky and Franko streets in Kyiv. This car belonged to Olena Prytula, editor at Ukrayinska Pravda, but she wasn’t in the car at the time. According to Radio Vesti's website, the journalist was heading to the radio's office to host his morning show when the car exploded. Pavel Sheremet, 44, was a Belarusian journalist and TV host who was imprisoned by the government of Belarus in 1997 and has been working outside of Belarus for a long time. He previously worked in Russia as TV host and journalist before moving to Kyiv around five years ago.

Updates

13 Jul 2017 : On 11 July, during a meeting with Sheremet's family and a CPJ delegation, Ukrainian President Poroshenko proposed adding an internationally recognized investigator to the team inquiring into Sheremet`s killing.

State replies

14 Feb 2017 : Reply from the Government of Ukraine

Follow-ups

20 Jul 2017 : OSCE media freedom representative urges authorities in Ukraine and other OSCE participating States to end impunity for murders of journalists.
05 Aug 2016 : Statement by Marina Kaljurand, Chair of the Committee of Ministers and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Estonia
21 Jul 2016 : OSCE Representative condemns murder of journalist Pavel Sheremet in Ukraine
21 Jul 2016 : The Secretary General of the Council of Europe strongly condemns the appalling murder of journalist Pavlo Sheremet and calls on the Ukrainian authorities and law-enforcement agencies to quickly and effectively investigate this crime.

Ongoing Impunity in the Case of Killed Journalists Andrea Rocchelli, Andrei Mironov and Wounded Photographer William Roguelon

Update: 17 Jul 2017 State replied
Year 24 May 2017 Country Ukraine Category D. Impunity Source of threat Unknown Partner RSF , AEJ , EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 1
24 May 2017 Ukraine D. Impunity Unknown RSF , AEJ , EFJ/IFJ Level 1

On 24 May 2014, on the Sloviansk southern front, Italian reporter Andrea Rocchelli, accompanied by Russian journalist and human rights activist Andrei Mironov and French photographer William Roguelon, were the victims of mortar fire that killed Rocchelli and Mironov on the spot and inflicted serious leg injuries on Roguelon, who eventually managed to return to France. These three experienced reporters were in civilian dress and were travelling in a civilian taxi. They had press accreditation and had crossed ten checkpoints prior to the attack. Their presence was known and they could not be mistaken for military personnel or parties to the conflict. An investigation was launched in Ukraine, which concluded that no evidence exist to find those responsible for this attack. However many evidences and testimonies were not taken into account : William Roguelon, as well as other key witnesses, were never heard, the ballistic test did not manage to draw any useful conclusion. A complaint has been filed also by William Roguelon in France, and by the Rocchelli family in Italy, where there has been considerable progress in the investigation. Three years have passed since the date journalists were killed and the Ukrainian, French and Italian authorities cannot let this case go unpunished. They must collaborate and take all appropriate action so as the authors of this attack against journalists do not remain unpunished.

Updates

17 Jul 2017 : On 30 June 2017, Vitaliy Markiv, a 28-year-old Italian-Ukrainian citizen was arrested in Bologna in the framework of the investigation into the death of Andrea Rocchelli.

State replies

13 Jul 2017 : Reply from the Government of Ukraine

Azerbaijan Offers Journalists Free Apartments

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Year 17 Jul 2017 Country Azerbaijan Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ , RSF Alert level Level 2
17 Jul 2017 Azerbaijan E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State EFJ/IFJ , RSF Level 2
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The State Fund for the “Support of Mass Media Development in Azerbaijan” will provide to journalists free government housing grants on 22 July 2017, National Press Day in Azerbaijan. A first “Journalists’ House” built in the Bibiheybat settlement of Baku by state budget funds was commissioned in 2013. A total of 156 journalists were allotted apartments there. The second “Journalists’ House” will host 255 journalists. The apartments will be distributed on 22 July. Broadcasting companies were allowed to nominate up to 10 candidates; daily newspapers and news agencies up to six candidates; weekly publications, news portals and websites up to three candidates. Several media representatives and journalists strongly criticized this State initiative: they believe that journalists who are granted apartments for free will fall under the government’s control.

Journalist Detained When Crossing Border Following Travel Ban

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Year 17 Jul 2017 Country Azerbaijan Category B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists Source of threat State Partner Index , RSF Alert level Level 2
17 Jul 2017 Azerbaijan B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists State Index , RSF Level 2
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Journalist Kamran Mahmudov was detained when crossing the Azerbaijan-Georgia border on 22 June, 2017. The journalist was first informed he was on the wanted list, but was later told he was under a travel ban. Mahmudov's travel ban began in April, according to the Gazakh police department. The ban was introduced by the Interior Ministry. The journalist was released after several hours in detention in Gazakh. In an interview with Azadliq Radio, Mahmudov said he had travelled to many countries over the last two years and was never told about being under a travel ban. Mahmudov is a former employee of Azadliq Radio and Kanal 13.

Attempted Intimidation of Journalists Investigating the Samusocial Scandal

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Year 13 Jul 2017 Country Belgium Category C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists Source of threat Non-state Partner EFJ/IFJ , Index , RSF Alert level Level 2
13 Jul 2017 Belgium C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists Non-state EFJ/IFJ , Index , RSF Level 2
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On 12 July 2017, the Belgian Parliamentary Committee investigating the Samusocial financial scandal revealed an attempt at intimidating journalists working for the weekly newspaper “Le Vif” and RTBF, the public broadcasting organisation of the French-speaking community in Belgium. The journalists were investigating the affair following revelations from an MP of the opposition, Alain Maron (Ecolo Party). The president of the non-profit association Samusocial, Michel Degueldre, sent an email on 25 May to the Head of Communications and the three operational managers of Samusocial asking them to launch “a thorough investigation on the life, academic background, habits, beliefs, friends, families of the two star journalists at Vif and RTBF and the Ecolo MP”. Michel Degueldre specified that he would like to “better understand their motivations, connections and potential aspirations.The time for being nice is over”. The Association of Professional Journalists (AJP) has condemned Degueldre`s methods, highlighting his “clear intention to hurt and attack journalists”. RTBF has declared its “outrage and indignation for such actions which touch upon the private lives of our colleagues and their families”.

Croatian Journalist Received Insults and Death Threats After Publishing Newspaper Reports

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Year 07 Jul 2017 Country Bosnia and Herzegovina Category C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists Source of threat Non-state Partner EFJ/IFJ , AEJ , Index Alert level Level 1
07 Jul 2017 Bosnia and Herzegovina C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists Non-state EFJ/IFJ , AEJ , Index Level 1
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Croatian journalist Hassan Haidar Diab, working for Vecernji list newspaper, received insults and threats, including death threats, sent through social networks. The verbal attacks came from Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) after Diab published a story citing classified document which revealed the names of jihadists from BiH, Kosovo and Serbia who went to fight on the battlefront in Syria and Iraq. According to the Western Balkan’s Regional Platform for Advocating Media Freedom and Journalists’ Safety, some BiH media openly called for his elimination.

N1TV Journalists in Bosnia and Herzegovina Targeted With Hate Speech and Threats Following Report

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Year 07 Jul 2017 Country Bosnia and Herzegovina Category C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists Source of threat Non-state Partner AEJ , EFJ/IFJ , Index Alert level Level 1
07 Jul 2017 Bosnia and Herzegovina C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists Non-state AEJ , EFJ/IFJ , Index Level 1
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Two journalists working for the BiH private regional channel N1TV were victims of hate speech. Reporter Adisa Imamović and local program editor and manager Amir Zukić were targeted by messages on the web portal Bosnjaci.net following the publication on 23 June 2017 of a story on the Iftar in Konjevic Polje, a small town in the Eastern part of BiH. According to the Western Balkan’s Regional Platform for Advocating Media Freedom and Journalists’ Safety, Bosnjaci called through its Facebook page for violence against N1 workers, and spread hate speech on a national and religious basis. N1 filed a complaint against the portal.

Russian Journalist Ashot Dzhazoyan Banned from Entering Ukraine for Three Years

Update: 05 Jul 2017 State replied
Year 12 May 2017 Country Ukraine Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ , Index , IPI , RSF Alert level Level 2
12 May 2017 Ukraine E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State EFJ/IFJ , Index , IPI , RSF Level 2

Ashot Dzhazoyan, the secretary of the Russian Union of Journalists, was banned from entering Ukraine for the next three years over “systematic violations of Ukrainian legislation as regards Ukraine’s border crossing during visits to the occupied Crimea”. The Ukrainian Security Service also accuse him of “committing socially dangerous actions that contradict Ukrainian security interests”. The Union of Journalists of the Russian Federation called the decision as “incomprehensible”. Mr Dzhazoyan is one of the most active participants in at the dialogue between members of professional organisations of journalists from Russia and Ukraine under the theme "Two Countries, One Profession". He is also co- chair of youth OSCE project. On 15 April 2014, the Ukrainian Parliament adopted a law ‘On the rights and freedoms of citizens and legal regime of the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine’. According to its Article 10, foreign citizens may visit Crimea only from mainland Ukraine and with a special permit. In September 2015, journalism was added as a ground of getting a permit, making possible for foreign journalists to go to Crimea. However, the procedures to receive the special permit have been criticised by the local NGOs as cumbersome – to receive the permit, foreign journalists must be physically present in Ukraine, they must file an application in Ukrainian, wait for approval letter from the Ministry of Information Policy, send it to the State Migration Service of Ukraine and then wait again for up to five days to obtain the permit.

State replies

05 Jul 2017 : Reply from the Government of Ukraine

Polish Law on Public Service Broadcasting Removes Guarantees of Independence

Update: 04 Jul 2017 State replied
Year 04 Jan 2016 Country Poland Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner AEJ , Article 19 , CPJ , EFJ/IFJ , Index , RSF Alert level Level 2
04 Jan 2016 Poland E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State AEJ , Article 19 , CPJ , EFJ/IFJ , Index , RSF Level 2

The law on Public Service Media governance which has been hurriedly adopted by the Polish parliament proposes the removal of guarantees for the independence of public service TV (TVP) and Radio (PR), in breach of Council of Europe norms and of the mandate given by the Polish constitution to the independent broadcasting authority (KRRiT) to uphold the broad public interest in broadcasting. The legislation gives a government minister exclusive powers to appoint and dismiss all members of the Supervisory and Management Boards of TVP and PR, making them wholly dependent on the goodwill and favour of the government The proposed arrangements represent a shift to direct government control over the strategic and editorial stance of the public broadcasters which is wholly unacceptable in a genuine democracy. The fundamental and drastic changes proposed were put before parliament to be voted on without the necessary inclusive public debate and in spite of strong objections by the KRRiT and many concerned bodies in Poland and abroad. The Polish government's plans directly contradict the commitments made by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in its 2012 Declaration on Public Service Media Governance; that Declaration stated that PSM must remain independent of political or economic interference, and should be accountable and transparent as they have the obligation to serve the public in all its diversity. The organisations submitting this Alert call on the Polish ruling party to abandon the proposed legislation at once.

Updates

04 Jul 2017 : On 7 July 2016, the new “Act on the National Media Council" entered into force, according to which two out of five members of the Council are designated by the opposition parties while the remaining three are appointed by the present authorities. That system of senior management appointments to the public broadcaster by the new National Media Council has been criticised by some journalists’ organisations as being done, in effect, under the political and economic control of the government authorities, in contravention of the Council of Europe’s standards of independence of public service media. According to the Polish Towarzystwo Dziennikarskie (Society of Journalists), as of 4 July 2017, 228 journalists have lost their jobs - either by being dismissed or by resigning - as a result of management changes in the public radio and TV since the beginning of 2016.
07 Jan 2016 : On the 7 January 2016, the President of Poland, Andrzej Duda, signed the act on public service media governance into a law.

State replies

Follow-ups

02 May 2017 : The CoE Commissioner for Human Rights details the prerequisites for well-funded and strong public service media.
15 Jun 2016 : Addressing the reform of public service media which is currently underway, the Commissioner urged the Polish authorities to introduce safeguards to guarantee the independence of public service media from political influence.
15 Jun 2016 : The Secretary General welcomes the constructive dialogue with the Polish authorities on the public media legislation.
07 Jun 2016 : Expert dialogue between the Polish Government and the Council of Europe : conclusions published
16 Feb 2016 : Upon return of his visit to Poland, Coe Commissioner for Human rights expresses concerns at the adoption in December 2015 of transitional legislation in the field of public service media, pending the adoption of a wider reform in this area, expected before the summer 2016.
14 Jan 2016 : CoE Secretary General mentions changes to the Polish Radio and Television Broadcasting Act in his address to the Committee of Ministers
06 Jan 2016 : OSCE Media Freedom Representative urges Poland’s government to withdraw proposed changes to the selection of management in public service broadcasters
05 Jan 2016 : Coe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland expresses his particular concern with regard to the new Polish law on public service broadcasting and the impact it may have on the integrity and independence of public service media.
05 Jan 2016 : Call by the CoE Commissioner for Human Rights on Polish President not to sign new Media Law

Relevant CoE instruments Disclaimer

15 Dec 2016 : Recommendation CM/Rec(2012)1 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on public service media governance (Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 15 February 2012 at the 1134th meeting of the Ministers' Deputies)
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