Censorship in the context of “fake news”, counterterrorism and government accountability

 

                                                                 Antonio Rodríguez (Mexico) / Cartooning for Peace

 

  • Several alerts in 2019 highlighted growing efforts by state authorities to censor content deemed false, deceptive or harmful, in the context of national security and public order. In many of these cases, authorities have claimed the right to determine what information is fit to print or broadcast by invoking the “fight against fake news”.
  • Legislation introduced in the Russian Federation in April 2019 allows courts to sanction those who use the internet to spread “fake news” or show “disrespect for society, the state, [and] state symbols”, and to block websites that publish the offending material. [21] The laws grant media regulator Roskomnadzor sweeping powers to determine what constitutes“fake news”, without indepen- dent judicial review.[22] In the first charge under these laws, journalist Mikhail Romanov was fined after being found guilty of “abuse of free speech rights by publishing fake news that poses a threat to the public”, [23] over his report that Federal Security Service agents had tortured an academic. His fine was cancelled on appeal in December 2019, over “lack of sufficient evidence”. In a separate case, Roskomnadzor ordered take-downs of online videos show- ing street protests in Moscow on the grounds that they were “advertising for unauthorised demonstrations”.[24]
  • On 11 October 2019, Turkish prosecutors declared a sweeping ban under the country’s anti-terrorism laws on news about Turkey’s military action in northern Syria,[25] threatening prosecution against anyone endangering the security or social peace in Turkey with“any kind of suggestive” news in a publication, broadcast or on social media. Two editors of online media outlets were detained on that day. Two foreign reporters from Bloomberg who had written articles describing how Turkish authorities and banks were responding to a shock devaluation of the Turkish lira were arrested, and charged with sharing “false, wrong, or deceptive information” to affect the markets.[26]
  • On 1 December, Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama ordered the Electronic and Postal Communications Authority to block online news portals on the grounds of distributing panic-inducing “fake news” following a major earthquake.[27] 
  • Proposals by the UK government to regulate “harmful” material online were met with protests.[28] Arguing that new legal powers were needed to combat terrorism, child abuse and other harms on the internet, the govern- ment launched a consultation on plans to impose an ill-defined “duty of care” on online publishers, including social media outlets, public discussion forums, non-profit organisations, file-sharing sites and cloud-hosting providers. Breaches of the law would incur substantial fines and possibly criminal liability. Media and NGOs demanded robust and legally watertight safeguards against prior restraint for comment sections and the forced removal of material that, although not shown to be illegal, might be deemed to be “harmful”.

 

Behind the cloak of supposedly legitimate purposes, laws and administrative measures allegedly aimed at countering “false”, “insulting” or other “harmful” news may lead to censorship and suppress critical thinking.

 

  • In Slovakia, after former Prime Minister Robert Fico vowed to end“media terror and lynching”, lawmakers passed legislation [29] to grant public officials and high-ranking politicians a legally enforceable right of reply in response to allegedly false statements. Amendments tabled by the opposition blocked more draconian aspects of the measure, including granting officials a right to reply to opinions. The bill was passed despite protests and against the advice of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media.
  • Behind the cloak of supposedly legitimate purposes, laws and administra- tive measures allegedly aimed at countering“false”, “insulting”or other“harmful”news may lead to censorship and suppress critical thinking. Often worded in vague and overly broad terms, they lack the required legal foreseeability and pave the way for arbitrary or abusive application, sometimes by a single administrative authority. They sometimes bypass the need for procedural safeguards by an independent or judicial review process.[30] They also blur the fundamental distinction between facts, which are susceptible to being proven true or false, and opinions.[31] They further ignore that, by accepting to work in the public sphere, politicians, judges and civil servants should stand a greater degree of criticism.[32]

 

Media coverage of protests and demonstrations

 

Alerts posted on the Platform in 2019 show that policing of protests and demonstrations is problematic in many Council of Europe member states.

 

  • In democracies, journalists must be able to carry out their watchdog role by reporting in public spaces, including at protests and demonstrations. Law enforcement must respect the media’s right to report from protests and demonstrations and the public’s right to be informed.
  • The presence of the press helps to ensure that police and security forces can be held to account for their conduct vis-à-vis protesters and the public at large, including for the methods used to control or disperse protesters. The European Court of Human Rights has upheld these principles in a number of cases, ruling in favour of journalists who were arrested and prosecuted for disobeying police orders after taking pictures [33] of or reporting on demonstra- tions despite a general access ban to a public space, [34] and even in the case of unauthorised protests.[35] Accordingly, police must allow journalists access to public spaces to allow them to exercise their profession.
  • *Alerts posted on the Platform in 2019 show that policing of protests and demonstrations is problematic in many Council of Europe member states.[36] Several alerts report physical assaults on journalists by law-enforcement officers, or instances in which journalists or photographers suffered assaults or harassment by demonstrators after police failed to take appropriate actions to protect them. On 18 April 2019, award-winning journalist Lyra McKee was shot while reporting on riots in Northern Ireland (UK). [37] Alerts were also posted relating to police hindrance and disruption of media workers’ reporting of protests and demonstrations, including the arrest and taking into custody of journalists, and other disproportionate measures such as blanket regional bans on reporting [38] and threats.[39]
  • Problems of similar kinds were reported in many member states: journal- ists were also threatened, attacked or arrested at demonstrations in Catalonia (Spain); [40] in Turkey during protests against military operations in Syria [41] and against the dismissal of elected mayors in towns in the country’s South-East; [42] during protests against corruption and public policy in Albania [43] and Azerbaijan, [44] and in the run-up to local elections in the Russian Federation. [45]
  • In 2019, France experienced a significant increase in violence against media workers who covered the protests against government policies (see the section of this report relating to France).
  • The cases on the Platform regarding media coverage of protests also underline the precarity that freelance journalists face when covering rallies and events involving large or hostile crowds. Many freelancers depend on short-term contracts or on ad hoc payments and lack the means to acquire proper safety equipment. Those who do not have press cards to demonstrate their status are especially vulnerable to being assaulted or roughed up by police or protesters.

 

SLAPPs: abusive legal actions designed to intimidate

  • Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP) refer to (typically civil) lawsuits brought by powerful individuals or companies that have no legal merit and are designed to intimidate and harass the target – especially through the prospect of burdensome legal costs – and not to be won in court. In some cases, the threat of bringing such a suit, including through letters sent by powerful law firms, is enough to bring about the desired effect. Several alerts from 2019 highlight legal actions against journalists that amount to SLAPPs.
  • In Malta, powerful individuals continued to use SLAPPs to scare journalists into halting investigations into corruption and other matters of public interest. In September 2019, the law firm Carter Ruck – acting on behalf of the Maltese government and instructed by former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, his wife, Michelle, his former Chief of Staff Keith Schembri, former minister Konrad Mizzi, and Minister Christian Cardona – sent a letter marked“private and confidential” to blogger Manuel Delia who, with journalists Carlo Bonini and John Sweeney, authored the book Murder on the Malta Express: Who Killed Daphne Caruana Galizia? The letter alleged that the book’s contents were highly defamatory. No response was received from the Maltese government to this alert.[46]
  • The Platform received an alert in 2019 on over 1,100 pending lawsuits against journalists and news outlets filed by politicians, public figures and corporations in Croatia. Most of the court cases involved compensation claims for alleged non-material damages such as “mental anguish” or a “tarnished reputation”. Journalists denounced the cases as censorship by law.
  • Several meritless complaints of different legal types were filed in Belgium against investigative journalists David Leloup and Tom Cochez by companies or individuals belonging to the political and financial community of the city of Liège following an investigation into a suspected corruption case.[47]
  • Also in 2019, a number of media freedom organisations including Platform partners signed a joint call on British businessman Arron Banks to drop a libel lawsuit against Guardian journalist Carole Cadwalladr, which the partners considered an example of a SLAPP due to the suit’s meritless, vexatious nature and its apparent intent to silence Cadwalladr’s work.[48] Cadwalladr had reported on the funding of Banks’s Leave.EU campaign and questioned Banks’ ties to the Russian Federation following the leak of documents exposing the Russian Government’s offer of a gold and diamond deal to Banks – matters that are clearly of high public interest.
  • The Platform also recorded examples in which courts had resisted SLAPP suits and sanctioned those who brought abusive cases. In March 2019, the Paris Court of Appeal ordered Bolloré SA to pay France Télévisions €10,000 in damages for frivolous proceedings after the company sued the media organisation in commercial court for €50 million in damages over a report scrutinising the company’s activities in Africa.[49]

 

Impunity for the killings of journalists and other serious attacks

 

                                                                                 Glez (Burkina Faso) / Cartooning for Peace

 

  • Impunity is the result of the failure by state authorities to identify, prosecute and punish all those, including the assailants and masterminds, responsible for crimes of violence against journalists. Beyond the injustice done to the victims and their families, it gives rise to a suspicion of official collusion in, or tolerance of, unlawful acts and undermines public confidence in the rule of law.
  • Under the European Convention on Human Rights, countries have an obligation to carry out prompt, impartial and effective investigations into attacks perpetrated against journalists. Several judgments by the European Court have established that states must fulfil “positive obligations”to carry out effective investigations following the killing or disappearance of a journalist.

 

Even when perpetrators or hitmen were prosecuted, the organisers

or masterminds often remained unidentified. 

 

  • At the end of 2019 there were 31 alerts on impunity, including 22 alerts relating to unsolved murders of journalists in Azerbaijan, Malta, Montenegro, the Russian Federation, Serbia, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Kingdom (see page 27). These cases highlight multiple deficiencies and delays in criminal investigations and delays resulting from failures by law-enforcement and prosecution authorities. One alert sheds light on the deliberate delay to exceed the expiry date of the limitation period.[50] Other deficiencies undermined the ability to establish the cause of death of a killed journalist. Often, investigations failed to take the necessary actions to secure evidence about possible links between the homicide and the journalist’s work, and connections between the suspects and local, regional or state authorities. As a result, even when perpetrators or hitmen were prosecuted, the organisers or masterminds often remained unidentified. Impunity therefore often reveals wider, systemic flaws in the rule of law.
  • None of the 22 cases on impunity for murder were closed in 2019. Some limited progress was reported regarding the investigation of the murder of Pavel Sheremet in Kyiv (Ukraine) and in the cases of Andrea Rocchelli and Andrei Mironov, who were killed in eastern Ukraine. The Platform recorded these developments accordingly, but the cases have yet to be resolved. Two additional cases were added to the category of impunity to reflect the lack of progress in the investigations into the murder of journalist Martin O’Hagan [51] in the United Kingdom back in 2001 and the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta in 2017.
  • Both the Committee of Ministers [52] and the PACE [53] have repeatedly called on member states to bring to justice all the perpetrators of serious crimes against journalists. On 2 November 2019, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe stated that fighting impunity is at the heart of what the Organisation stands for. [54]

 

Cases on the Platform regarding impunity for murder of journalists

 

Daphne CARUANA GALIZIA – Malta – 2017

Saaed KARIMIAN – Turkey – 2017

Pavel SHEREMET – Ukraine – 2016 Rohat AKTAŞ – Turkey – 2016

Naji JERF – Turkey – 2015

Timur KUASHEV – Russian Federation – 2014

Andrea ROCCHELLI and Andrei MIRONOV – Ukraine – 2014

Viacheslav VEREMII – Ukraine – 2014

Oleksandr KUCHYNSK – Ukraine – 2014

Mikhail BEKETOV – Russian Federation – 2013 

Akhmednabi AKHMEDNABIYEV – Russian Federation – 2013

Nikolai POTAPOV – Russian Federation – 2013

Rafiq TAGI – Azerbaijan – 2011

Gadzhimurad KAMALOV – Russian Federation – 2011

Hrant DINK – Turkey – 2007

Anna POLITKOVSKAYA – Russian Federation – 2006

Elmar HUSEYNOV – Azerbaijan - 2005

Dusko JOVANOVIĆ – Montenegro – 2004

Martin O’HAGAN – United Kingdom – 2001

Georgiy GONGADZE – Ukraine – 2000

Dada VUJASINOVIĆ – Serbia – 1994

 

Impunity for the killings, kidnappings and disappearances of 14 Serbian and Albanian journalists in Kosovo [55] between 1998 and 2005

Bardhyl AJETI (2005), Bekim KASTRATI (2001), Xhemajl MUSTAFA (2000), Shefki POPOVA (2000), Marian MELONAŠI (2000), Momir STOKUĆA (1999), Krist GEGAJ (1999), Aleksandar SIMOVIĆ (1999), Milo BULJEVIĆ (1999), Ljubomir KNEŽEVIĆ (1999), Enver MALOKU (1999), Afrim MALIQI (1998), Ðuro SLAVUJ and Ranko PERENIĆ (1998)

 

 

                                                                             Darío (Mexico) / Cartooning for Peace

 

Online harassment

 

Online harassment is now endemic.

 

  • In 2019, the Platform registered seven alerts concerning online harass- ment, smear campaigns and threats against journalists – a growing concern for press freedom in Europe. [56]
  • In Slovakia, journalists were the target of an online smear campaign by former police president Tibor Gašpar. The journalists, including Péter Bardy of Aktuality.sk, Monika Tódová from Dennik N and Jana Šimíčková from the weekly Plus 7, had been reporting on Gašpar’s suspected role in unlawful surveillance of journalists, including Ján Kuciak. In his Facebook posts, Gašpar attacked the journalists as“liars and propagandists”, [57] while Ľuboš Blaha, head of the foreign affairs committee in the Slovak Parliament, carried out a similar campaign against two women journalists.[58]
  • In the United Kingdom, Sam McBride, a journalist with the News Letter, was the subject of an online attack by Member of Parliament Ian Paisley after McBride wrote an analysis on the possibility of devolution returning to Northern Ireland. [59] Paisley responded to the article by publishing a series of untrue allegations against the journalist, using offensive terms about him.
  • In Albania, British journalist Alice Taylor was the subject of an online smear campaign after speaking on Russia Today about protests in the country. [60] In Serbia, journalist Miodrag Sovilj was targeted after he critically questioned President Aleksandar Vučić, who was hospitalised for unrelated health reasons shortly afterwards. Photos of the journalist were taken from his student MySpace account and published to portray him as an alcoholic and drug addict. [61] Zana Cimili, a correspondent for TV channel N1 in Kosovo, [62] received online death threats against herself and her daughter. [63]
  • In Ukraine, a video surfaced on a Telegram channel showing pictures of four journalists, including Bellingcat journalists Michael Colborne and Oleksiy Kuzmenko, apparently being shot one-by-one with a gun. [64] It was accompanied by a message that said: “This video is kind of an instruction manual on how to deal with our enemies.”
  • Such acts violate journalists’ fundamental rights and are likely to have a chilling effect by deterring those who have been targeted and others from reporting on sensitive topics, thus restricting the public’s access to information. Studies have revealed recurrent patterns of online attacks and show that in many cases they are coordinated and follow cues set by prominent political figures. The dangers that online harassment pose to the free flow of informa- tion and the democratic exchange of ideas require an urgent response.[65]
  • Some individuals accused of harassing journalists online did face legal consequences in 2019. On 17 December, a criminal court in Lyon, France handed down a six-month suspended sentence to an internet user who had disseminated an article insulting journalist Julie Hainaut.[66] Also in France, another individual was found guilty of threatening journalist Nadia Daam in relation to a 2017 online attack and given a five-month suspended prison sentence, enabling the partner organisations to record that “progress” had been made towards resolving the case which prompted that alert. [67]

 

Public Service Media

 

Public Service Media is undermined and exploited for political advantage.

 

  • 2019 saw new threats to the independence, credibility and sustainability of PSM, including moves to reduce PSM funding in several member states and new examples of political interference in the management of public broadcasters.
  • As highlighted in the previous report, [68] PSM have increasingly been misused by governments in a substantial number of countries as instruments to deride and weaken their political opponents. In several cases, PSM have effectively been transformed into state media, acting as convenient tools for propaganda before and during elections.
  • Research conducted by independent monitoring organisations in Poland showed that programming of national public television broadcaster Telewizja Polska (TVP) has become systematically biased in favour of Law and Justice, the party in power. [69] In March, State Election Commission expressed concern about lapses in media impartiality during the previous year’s local elections, requesting media regulator Krajowa Rada Radiofonii I Telewizji (KRRiT) to monitor output before the European elections in May. KRRiT, dominated by appoin- tees of the ruling party, declined to do so. [70] Since then, further independent monitoring has found an overwhelming government bias in the reporting of successive election campaigns by PSM in Poland. [71] Journalists and media freedom organisations have warned that the same bias will be repeated in the forthcoming May 2020 presidential election.
  • In the Czech Republic, a fact-finding mission raised concerns about the independence of PSM, following attacks made by deputies in parliament against the media’s senior management. [72]
  • In the run-up to elections in Greece, an opposition party refused to take part in political debates on public broadcaster ERT because of its alleged pro-government bias. The party threatened to cut the license fee if it came to power. In the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson refused to take part in some proposed high-profile debates and interviews and his aides accused the BBC and the public service Channel 4 of biased coverage. He raised the prospect of changing the law to decriminalise non-payment of the licence fee, thereby weakening the BBC’s funding. He also hinted at substantial budget cuts from 2022 and called for “reflection” on the future of the licence fee system. [73]
  • Politicians in several countries launched verbal attacks against PSM, which often took the form of accusing them of acting “against ordinary people” and “telling lies”. These attacks became a prominent theme during several election campaigns, with candidates publicly threatening to cut funding or reduce editorial, financial and statutory autonomy.
  • In Austria, Harald Vilimsky from the FPÖ party threatened a prominent anchor at the public broadcaster ÖRF and called him a “liar” on social media. After the case went to court, the politician withdrew his allegations and acknowledged that the journalist had behaved professionally. [74]
  • Elsewhere, states continued to fail to properly fund public broadcasters. In Ukraine, UA:PBC’s severe budget problems continued for the third year in a row, failing to meet the requirement of adequate funding contained in the law that is designed to transform the state broadcaster into an open and accountable network. Bosnia and Herzegovina has long failed to meet requirements under its law establishing a PSM system covering the entire country. After years of inadequate funding, Radio-televizija Bosne i Hercegovine has come close to collapse.
  • Finally, alerts submitted to the Platform in 2019 reported several instances of verbal or physical attacks on PSM and their staff during anti-government protests, notably in France, [75] Serbia [76] and Spain. [77] In several cases, TV and radio journalists faced angry crowds who accused them of misreporting or of providing video materials to the police. Employees of Radiotelevisión España and Radio Catalunya were chased by hostile protesters and had their equipment damaged. [78]

 

 

[21] Alert “Russia: President Putin signs into law Russia’s ‘fake news’ and ‘Internet insults’ bans’”, posted 23 April 2019.

[22] Richter, A. (2019) “Disinformation in the media under Russian Law”, IRIS Extra, European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, at: https://rm.coe.int/disinformation-in-the-mediaunder-russian-law/1680967369, accessed 27 February 2020.

[23] Alert “Russian journalist Mikhail Romanov found guilty of ‘abuse of freedom of information’ and ‘fake news’”, posted 12 August 2019.

[24] Alert “Roskomnadzor requests the take-down of information about Moscow protests”, posted 14 August 2019.

[25] Alert “Turkey bans critical reports on military operation in Syria, detains two journalists”, posted 11 October 2019.

[26] Alert “Turkey charges Bloomberg reporters with undermining the economy”, posted 23 September 2019.

[27] Alerts “Prime Minister pressures online portals and information channels”; “Information website joqalbania.com blocked”, posted 5 December 2019.

[28] Alert “Proposal for online harms regulation risks impacting media freedom”, posted 17 April 2019.

[29] Alert “Slovakia seeks to introduce right of reply for politicians”, posted 6 February 2019.

[30] Council of Europe (2016), “Compilation of Venice Commission opinions and reports concerning freedom of expression and media”, p. 20 et s.; 33 et s, at: https://www.venice.coe.int/webforms/documents/?pdf=CDL-PI(2016)011-e, accessed 27 February 2020.

[31] Dalban v. Romania [GC], application No. 28114/95, judgment of 28 September 1999.

[32] Lingens v. Austria, application No. 9815/82, judgment of 08 July1986.

[33] Butkevitch v. Russia, application No. 5865/07, judgment of 13 February 2018.

[34] Gsell v. Switzerland, application No. 12675/05, judgment of 8 October 2009.

[35] Najafli v. Azerbaijan, application No. 2594/07, judgment of 2 October 2012.

[36] Alerts relating to Albania, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria, France, Greece, Italy, Serbia, Spain, the Russian Federation, Turkey, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.

[37] Alert “Journalist Lyra McKee killed in Northern Ireland”, posted 23 April 2019.

[38] Alert “Turkey bans critical reports on military operation in Syria, detains two journalists”, posted 11 October 2019.

[39] Alert “Italian Interior Minister’s security escort officer threatens a journalist”, posted 1 August 2019.

[40] Alerts “Twelve journalists victims of violence on the sidelines of demonstrations in Catalonia”, posted 15 October 2019; “Violent arrest of reporter Albert Garcia”, posted 21 October 2019.

[41] Alert “Turkey bans critical reports on military operation in Syria, detains two journalists”, posted 11 October 2019.

[42] Alert “At least nine journalists detained for reporting on protests against Government-appointed trustees”, posted 30 August 2019.

[43] Alerts “Police assault on the journalist Enver Doçi”, posted 3 July 2019; “Albania: journalists and photographers injured by police during anti-Government protests”, posted 18 April 2019.

[44] Alerts “Journalists detained and subjected to police violence while covering peaceful protests”, posted 24 October 2019; “Azerbaijani journalist Seymour Hazi detained in run-up to protests”, posted 23 October 2019.

[45] Alerts “Journalists beaten and detained at protests in Moscow”, posted 28 July 2019; “Russian police beat at least 1 journalist, arrest 2 during May protests in St. Petersburg”, posted 9 May 2019.

[46] Alert “Attempted intimidation of journalists Carlo Bonini, John Sweeney and blogger Manuel Delia”, posted 24 October 2019.

[47] Alert “Multiple complaints filed against journalists David Leloup and Tom Cochez”, posted 21 January 2019.

[48] IFEX (2019) “Free expression groups call on Arron Banks to drop lawsuit against journalist Carole Cadwalladr”, at: https://ifex.org/free-expression-groups-call-on-arron-banks-to-drop-slapp-lawsuit-against-journalist-carole-cadwalladr/, accessed 27 February 2020.

[49] Alert “France 2 TV channel sued in a commercial court by the Bolloré Group”, posted 27 July 2016, resolved 11 June 2019.

[50] Alert “Impunity for police officers who attacked journalists”, posted 19 March 2018.

[51] Alert “Continued impunity for murder of journalist Martin O’Hagan in 2001”, posted 26 August 2019.

[52] Council of Europe (2011), “Guidelines on eradicating impunity for serious human rights violations”, at: https://rm.coe.int/16805cd111, accessed 27 February 2020; Council of Europe (2016), Recommendation Rec(2016)4 to member states on the protection of journalism and safety of journalists and other media actors, § 24 et s. at: https://search.coe.int/cm/Pages/result_details.aspx?ObjectId=09000016806415d9, accessed 27 February 2020.

[53] PACE Resolution 2252(2019) “Sergei Magnitsky and beyond – fighting impunity by targeted sanctions”, 22 January 2019, at: http://assembly.coe.int/nw/xml/XRef/Xref-XML2HTML-EN.asp?fileid=25352&lang=en, accessed 27 February 2020

[54] Council of Europe Secretary General (2019), “Declaration on the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists”, at: www.coe.int/en/web/human-rights-channel/end-impunity-for-crimes-against-journalists, accessed 27 February 2020.

[55] All references to Kosovo, whether the territory, institutions or population, in this text shall be understood in full compliance with United Nations’ Security Council Resolution 1244 and without prejudice to the status of Kosovo.

[56] See, for example, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media (2019), “Legal responses to online harassment and abuse of journalists” at: www.osce.org/representative-on-freedomof-media/413552?download=true, accessed 27 February 2020; International Press Institute (2019), “Newsroom best practices for addressing online violence against journalists”at: https://ipi.media/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/IPI-report-online-harassment-06032019.pdf, accessed 27 February 2020.

[57] Alert “Smear campaign against Slovak journalists”, posted 15 October 2019.

[58] International Press Institute (2019), “Slovakia ruling party official attacks female journalists online” at: https://ipi.media/slovakia-ruling-party-official-attacks-female-journalists-online/, accessed 27 February 2020.

[59] Alert “News Letter journalist Sam McBride subjected to an online attack by Ian Paisley MP”, posted 17 September 2019.

[60] Alert “British journalist targeted by smear campaign”, posted 08 March 2019.

[61] Alert “Miodrag Sovilj targeted by smear campaign after interviewing President Vučić”, posted 28 November 2019.

[62] All references to Kosovo, whether the territory, institutions or population, in this text shall be understood in full compliance with United Nations’ Security Council Resolution 1244 and without prejudice to the status of Kosovo.

[63] Alert “N1 TV reporter in Kosovo Zana Cimili received death threats”, posted 20 August 2019

[64] Alert “Reporters Michael Colborne and Oleksiy Kuzmenko threatened and harassed”, posted 16 December 2019.

[65] See, for example, PACE Resolution 2144(2017) “Ending cyberdiscrimination and online hate”, 25 January 2017, at: http://assembly.coe.int/nw/xml/XRef/Xref-DocDetails-EN.asp?FileID=23456&lang=EN, accessed 27 February 2020

[66] Alert “Police failure to respond to the serious threats a journalist received online”, posted 25 June 2018.

[67] Alert “Journalist Nadia Daam harassed and target of death threats on social networks”, posted 7 November 2017, in progress 11 July 2019.

[68] Council of Europe Platform to promote the protection of journalism and the safety of journalists (2019) “Annual Report: Democracy at risk: threats and attacks against media freedom in Europe”, at: www.coe.int/en/web/media-freedom/annual-report, accessed 27 February 2020.

[69] Association of European Journalists (2019),“Polish public broadcasting in the eye of the storm”, at: www.aej.org/page.asp?p_id=706, accessed 27 February 2020.

[70] Update to Alert “Polish law on Public Service Broadcasting removes guarantees of independence”, updated 24 March 2019.

[71] Centre for Freedom of the Media/Andrzej Krajewski (2019), “State capture of public media: the case of Wiadomości, Polish Public television main daily newscast” at: http://www.cfom.org.uk/2019/07/18/state-capture-of-public-media-the-case-of-wiadomosci-the-news-polish-public-television-main-daily-newscast/, accessed 27 February 2020.

[72] European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (2019), “Media for the People: Protecting public service media from political interference”, at: https://www.ecpmf.eu/archive/events/newsocracy-budapest2019-psm.html, accessed 27 February 2020.

[73] Alert “UK incidents during election campaign undermine trust in the media”, posted 1 December 2019.

[74] Alert “Austrian news anchor targeted in intimidation campaign”, posted 29 April 2019.

[75] Alert “Repeated attacks on journalists by the ‘Yellow Vests’ protesters”, posted 19 April 2018, updated in 2019.

[76] Alert “Public TV building stormed by anti-government protesters in Serbia”, posted 19 March 2019.

[77] Alert “Spanish reporter Laila Jiménez assaulted by protesters during Catalonia Independence march”, posted 3 October 2019.

[78] Alerts “Several journalists targeted while covering demonstrations”, posted 13 September 2019; “Twelve journalists victims of violence on the sidelines of demonstrations in Catalonia”, posted 15 October 2019.