Conference on Media Freedom and the Security of Journalists
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure for me to be here today.
I would first like to thank the French Senate for hosting this conference.
Thank you also to the Parliamentary Assembly for having organised this important event.
For the Council of Europe, the question of freedom of expression and media goes right to the heart of what the Organisation stands for.
We are, as you know, an organisation built on three solid pillars: democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
Media freedom is a key building block for each of these pillars.
Securing the safety of journalists and other media actors is a necessary condition for ensuring media freedom and for a healthy, functioning democracy.
For our Organisation, the safety of our journalists includes not only their physical integrity and security, but also the protection of the confidentiality of their sources.
It includes the protection of their privacy, as well as their personal protection when confronted with a climate of judicial or political intimidation.
Media freedom is one of the most sensitive and difficult topics that we are faced with on a national and international level.
Because free media means scrutiny of power, but at the same time free media also means counter-power.
That is precisely why, in this day and age, we still need to deplore attacks and threats of all sorts against journalists.
Since 2010, there have been calls from both the Parliamentary Assembly and the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe for an Internet platform contributing to public accountability, which assists member States in honouring their obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights and other Council of Europe standards.
Today, we are here to answer this call to action.
Council of Europe member States have not separated this political will from its implementation.
As a result, last month the Committee of Ministers decided to approve my proposal to set up a web platform to promote the protection of journalism and safety of journalists.
The platform will be a tool for the collection of factual information regarding serious concerns about media freedom.
Partner organisations will post information regarding threats to the physical integrity and security of journalists and other media actors.
Also included will be disclosures regarding threats to the confidentiality of journalists’ sources, as well as judicial and political intimidation of journalists.
On the basis of this information, Council of Europe bodies will be in a better position to take timely action to remedy the situation.
Member States will also have the possibility of posting information on the Platform on action taken.
I have no doubt that the initiative will strengthen co-operation between Council of Europe bodies and other international organisations, in particular the EU, OSCE and the United Nations.
Built on a network of trust, the platform will be pieced together through a close partnership with four specialized NGOs: the International Federation of Journalists, including its European branch, the Association of European Journalists, Reporters Without Borders and Article 19.
I would like to thank these four NGOs for their readiness to co-operate with the Council of Europe.
The role of NGO’s and civil society in the world we live in today cannot be overstated.
They play a unique and complementary role in documenting violence against journalists.
They raise awareness.
They assist in legislative and policy development, and they provide training.
At the same time, we know that other international and regional organisations are also working for the safety of journalists. We are and will remain in a constant contact with them.
Today, we are taking a bold, concrete step in creating a unique tool which will enable us to react more rapidly to urgent challenges and also to take protective and remedial action to enhance the safety of journalists.
The platform alone of course, will not bring about full safety for all journalists.
But it will certainly help.