Council of Europe, increase of detained journalists
STRASBOURG (FRANCE) (ITALPRESS) – In 2022, since Russia started its war of aggression against Ukraine, at least 12 journalists and media workers were killed and 21 injured while executing their profession. According to the 2023 annual report of the partner organizations of the Council of Europe Platform for the Protection of Journalism and the Safety of Journalists, the war has started in a context of continuous deterioration of media freedom in Europe, with a significant increase in the number of detained journalists.
Published under the title “The War in Europe and the Struggle for the right to inform”, the report examines the main threats to media freedom in Europe and also makes recommendations for the Council of Europe, the European Union, and the member states on the actions needed to improve the situation. During 2022, the platform has published 289 warnings to report serious threats or attacks on media freedom in 37 states, where journalists have been killed, arrested, attacked, persecuted legally, and subject to defamation campaigns. This information includes notices related to Russia, as the partner organizations have decided to continue monitoring the situation of media freedom and attacks against of journalists after Russiàs expulsion from the Council of Europe in March 2022.
“Over the last few years, we have seen an alarming increase in attacks and threats against journalists. Many journalists have boldly exercised the right to inform in context of the Russian aggression against Ukraine and some paid for it with their own life,” said the General Secretary of the Council of Europe Marija Pejcinovic Buric adding that “the fact that many of the attacks go unpunished threatens the very foundations of our society. I call on Member States to address seriously this issue and to fully respect and protect the rights of journalists, to ensure their safety, to protect their sources, and to prevent censorship and other forms of interference in their job”.
The Platform’s report examines in detail the crackdown on independent journalism in Russia and the occupied territories in Ukraine and devotes a specific chapter to Belarus. In addition to the journalists who died during the war, the Platform recorded a journalist who was killed while executing his profession; Gungor Arslan in Turkey, when compared to the four registered in 2021. It was also noticed fewer cases of threats and attacks during street demonstrations, given the decrease in demonstrations during the Covid-19 period.
The partner organizations conclude that in Europe, detentions and arbitrary arrests of journalists are the order of the day. As of the end of December of last year,127 journalists and media operators were detained, 95 of whom were on the Platform’s list (a 60% increase compared to 31 December 2021), as well as 32 journalists and media workers in Belarus for which there were no alerts.
During 2022, the Platform recorded 74 notices concerning attacks on the physical integrity of journalists (26%), 41 notices on detention and imprisonment of journalists (14%), 94 notices on persecution cases and intimidation of journalists (32%), and another 80 notices on other acts which have dissuasive effects on media freedom (28%).
Other issues examined in the report are the introduction of legislation limiting the work of journalists, surveillance of journalists’ communications, fake news, and disinformation, the abuse of the judicial system to punish or intimidate reporters, strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPP), the pressures on the public service media and other cases of media that are directly or indirectly controlled by the government or by politicians. The report shows the persistent lack of progress regarding the resolution concerning 35 cases of impunity for attacks against journalists, including 26 murder cases that are still pending on the Platform.
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