Ukrainian court rules to block access to 17 online media

On 23 July, the Pechersk District Court of Kyiv (Ukraine) ruled to block access to 17 online media, including news portals and bloggers platforms korrespondent.net, enigma.ua, trident-ua.info, and informator.news. The owners of the closed websites have lodged an appeal. Their lawyers have denounced the delaying tactics that have so far prevented the appeal court from ruling. The court justified the closure of these news websites by the fact that they disseminate texts relating to slander or defamation. The judgment requires to restrict access not only to potentially harmful material, but to the entire content of these website. The National Union…

Open letter to new Secretary General of the Council of Europe

Along with 21 other organisations, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) co-signed an open letter sent to the new Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Marija Pejčinović Burić, who is starting her five-year term of office on 18 September 2019. Dear Secretary-General, On behalf of the undersigned organisations, we warmly congratulate you on your appointment as the new Secretary-General of the Council of Europe. We are motivated by our experience and understanding of the worsening of the environment for journalists and free expression across Europe to ask you to make sure that your commitment to democracy, the rule of…

Croatia: Journalist arrested and fined for satirical tweets

Gordan Duhacek, a reporter for Index.hr, was arrested by Zagreb police at the airport when he was about to take a business flight on 16 September. Duhacek was eventually released and found guilty of insulting the police in one post on his Twitter feed, was charged with a symbolic fine of 100 euros, and has been prosecuted for another tweet under the base of an article of the Law on Offences against Public Order and Peace. The verdict of this last post would be delivered on Thursday. The journalist denounces that he was sprayed with tear gas on the floor and…

European Parliament: EFJ welcomes new mandate of Monitoring Group on democracy and rule of law

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) welcomed on 17 September the new mandate of the Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE) working group, renamed “Democracy, Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights Monitoring Group”. Chaired by the Dutch MEP Sophie In’t Veld (Renew Europe), the LIBE group will focus on threats to democracy, fight against corruption, rule of law and fundamental rights in the European Union. The group was first set up in June 2018 in the aftermath of the murders of the Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia and the Slovakian journalist Jan Kuciak. The LIBE committee report, published in November 2018 following…

Mission to Turkey: press freedom remains in crisis

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) joined seven other organisations on a joint mission to Turkey, led by the International Press Institute (IPI). Despite some glimmers of hope, press freedom in the country remains in crisis. International press freedom groups and professional organisations reported today that press freedom and the rule of law in Turkey remain in crisis despite grounds for very cautious optimism, such as yesterday’s ruling releasing several former Cumhuriyet journalists. Over three days this week, the international press freedom delegation held meetings with journalists, civil society, the judiciary and the authorities to assess planned reforms and the…

Georgia: journalists’ resignations at Rustavi 2 TV reveal alarming decline in media freedom

Georgian main opposition TV channel Rustavi 2 faced mass resignations after the new management has fired several prominent journalists and producers in early September. The Independent Association of Georgian Journalists (IAGJ) warns against a clear attempt at political control over the media in Georgia and denounces the inaction of the international community to improve media pluralism in the country. Rustavi 2 is one of the most watched TV channels in Georgia and was once known as the main opposition television company, close to the United National Movement party. Since the new shareholder Kibar Khalvashi named his lawyer Paata Salia as…

Media Pluralism has become a priority for the European Commission

Together with the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) believes that the distribution of European Commission portfolios is a hopeful sign that the European Union can deliver social progress over the next five years. The EFJ particularly welcomes the fact that media pluralism is mentioned as one of the EU Commission’s priorities. European Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen presented on Tuesday the proposed new team of Commissioners, including some hopeful developments. As the ETUC has stated, Commissioners Nicolas Schmidt (Luxembourg) and Paolo Gentiloni (Italy), proposed for the jobs and economy portfolios, were both strong…

Spain: several journalists targeted while reporting demonstrations

During the last years, the tension in the political debate between Catalonia and Spain has moved to the streets and journalists are suffering the consequences. The last case occurred on September 11, the day of the festivity of Catalonia, when one of the pro-independence demonstrations of 300 people in front of the Catalan Parliament became the scene of violence and altercations with members of the police and some journalists who were reporting on the event. Journalist Ángela García Romero was reporting for TVE (Televisión Española) the demonstration when a group of hooded people attacked her TV crew, first throwing some…

Italy: journalists’ union calls on the profession to improve media coverage of femicides

The Italian Journalists’ Union (FNSI – Federazione Nazionale Stampa Italiana) yesterday called for greater awareness when reporting about gender violence and in particular, femicides. This important wake-up call was published by the FNSI ‘Commission for equal opportunities’ whereas the headlines and news regarding the murder of a woman has raised controversy in Italy. The case of the murder of Elisa Pomarelli, near Piacenza, reached national news when the body was found after two weeks of intensive search that ended with the confession of a man, who said to be Pomarelli’s friend. The reports in newspapers, TV, radio stations and digital…