Parliament adopts revised EU Audiovisual Directive to ensure media independence

On 2 October, the European Parliament approved the revised Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD). The new rules aim to guarantee a fairer regulatory environment for the entire audiovisual sector. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) welcomed in particular the new requirement for Member States to have independent regulatory authorities for audiovisual media services. The Directive establishes a set of criteria that the regulator has to follow in ordered to be considered independent. First of all, it should be legally distinct from the government and functionally independent. Secondly, it should not take instructions from any other body in accomplishing its tasks.…

Journalist Victoria Marinova brutally murdered in Bulgaria

The European and International Federations of Journalists (EFJ-IFJ) are deeply shocked by the brutal murder of Victoria Marinova, a 30-year-old Bulgarian journalist working for regional TV channel TVN. She is the fourth journalist killed in the EU since 2017 after Kim Wall in Denmark, Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta and Jan Kuciak in Slovakia. A vigil in Marinova’s honour will be organised in the capital, Sofia, on Monday evening. Victoria Marinova has been brutally killed on Saturday, around noon, in the city of Ruse, located in the north of the country. According to local media reports, her body was found in an area…

The European Parliament calls for free press in Belarus

On 4 October, the European Parliament unanimously approved a resolution “on deterioration of media freedom in Belarus, notably the case of Charter 97” condemning the current situation of press freedom in Belarus, where independent news outlet and journalists suffer constant detention and state harassment. The resolution addresses the Belarusian government’s decision to block the internet access to the news website Charter 97 as well as pressures against journalists, freelancers and independent media. It calls on the EU institutions to monitor the situation of media freedom within the country and to condition the negotiations with Belarussian government to its commitment for the independence…

Netherlands: New ‘Source Protection Act’ finally enters into force

On 1st October, the Source Protection Act in Criminal Cases has finally become effective in the Netherlands. The law provides strengthened protection for the confidentiality of journalists’ sources, which have been recognised in several cases as an essential part of freedom of expression by the European Court of Human Rights. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) joined its Dutch affiliate the NVJ in welcoming the law, defined by NVJ General Secretary Thomas Bruning as “necessary to the correct functioning of journalism”. With the Source Protection Act, there will always be a preliminary consideration by a judge before the police can have access to the sources data…

Murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia: EFJ and FNSI join Malta mission

The European Federation of Journalists and its Italian affiliate FNSI will join a group of international press freedom and freedom of expression organisations from October 15-17 on a mission to Malta. The group will support local civil society actions marking the one-year anniversary of the death of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, and conduct fact-finding into the case and broader press freedom issues in the country. The group has requested meetings with government officials, including Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, as well as a wide range of civil society stakeholders. The EFJ will be represented by Anna Del Freo (FNSI), member…

Turkish court upheld aggravated life sentences for journalists

On 2 October 2018, the Istanbul Court of appeal upheld aggravated life sentences of six suspects, including journalists, over terrorism charges. Nazlı Ilıcak, Ahmet Altan, Mehmet Altan, Fevzi Yazıcı, Yakup Şimşek and Şükrü Tuğrul Özşengül were convicted for attempting to overthrow the constitutional order, reported Anadolu Agency. All suspects were accused of being linked to FETÖ, the group which is widely believed by Turkish authorities to have orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016 that killed 250 people and injured nearly 2,200 others. The journalists had appealed to the high court for their release but the court of appeal upheld their sentence.…

Hunger strike deteriorating Croatian journalist Domagoj Margetić’s health

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) is very worried about the deteriorating medical condition of Croatian journalist Domagoj Margetić who has been on hunger strike since 6 September 2018. Domagoj Margetić is a journalist investigating crime and corruption in Croatia and is editor of „No censorship“ show at TV Mreža. Over the last several years, he has reported many death threats, attacks against his property as well as physical attacks, one of them qualified as attempted murder. According to the Croatian Journalists’ Association (CJA), Margetić and his family have suffered intensified pressures since August 2018, such as blackmailing and death threats, which triggered…

Mafia aggressor against an Italian journalist condemned

On 28th September, the Italian court of Ragusa sentenced the aggressor of Paolo Borrometi, a 44 years old freelance investigative journalist and the president of Articolo 21, the Italian association promoting freedom of expression. Venerando Lauretta was sentenced for the death threats he made against the journalist, aggravated by the mafia method, to one year and six months imprisonment. Lauretta, regent of the mafia clan Carbonaro-Dominante of Vittoria (Ragusa), begun to threaten Borrometi after identifying the journalist as responsible for the opening of investigations against his person. Paolo Borrometi is the editor of anti-mafia investigative website LaSpia.it, where he reports on the Sicilian…

EFJ is not convinced by the Platforms’ so-called “Code of Practice” on disinformation

Members of the Sounding Board of the EU Multistakeholder Forum [1] on Disinformation Online – which includes the EFJ – have delivered their final opinion on the new so-called ‘Code of Practice’ drafted by the online platforms (Google, Facebook, Twitter, Mozilla and several advertisement organisations). The Sounding Board, comprised of representatives of the media, civil society, journalists, consumer organizations, fact-checkers and academia, thanked the Commission and Commissioner Mariya Gabriel for convening the Forum and for the opportunity to comment on the so-called ‘Code of Practice’ drawn up by the online platforms. As demonstrated in the Sounding Board’s detailed and written…

Austrian Interior Ministry attempts to restrict freedom of press

The intention of the Austrian Interior Ministry to restrict communication to “critical media” has been revealed in an email leaked to the press on Tuesday 25 September. In the four pages email, top ministry spokesman Christoph Pölzl, explicitly demanded regional police to “restrict communication with these media to only the most necessary (legally required) degree”. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) joined its affiliate in Austria, GPA-djp and Younion, in condemning this attack on press freedom. The media labeled as “critical” include the dailies Der Standard and Kurier as well as the weekly Falter. According to the Ministry, they have “operated…

The EU General Court denies a group of journalists access to MEPs’ expenses

The General Court of the European Union ruled on 25 September 2018 that MEPs expenses can remain secret. The highest court confirmed the European Parliament’s refusal to give access to documents related to MEPs’ expenses to a group of journalists, claiming that this would undermine MEPs’ personal privacy. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) condemns this decision and renews its call to improve transparency and access to information in the European Union. The request was forwarded to the European Parliament (EP) in 2015 by a group of 29 journalists, who wanted to access information on the MEPs’ spending records. According to Euractiv,…