European Federation of Journalists

EFJ calls on States to implement OSCE Decision on Safety of Journalists

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) was invited today to introduce the working session on freedom of the media at the OSCE 2nd Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting (SHDM). The EFJ called on the OSCE Participating States to fully implement the 2018 Ministerial Council Decision for the safety of journalists.

“Hundreds of media outlets are under threat, starting with local media, which are simply in danger of disappearing for lack of financial support. Tens of thousands of journalists have been put on temporary unemployment. And tens of thousands of independent journalists have been deprived of any income for the past three months,” said the EFJ General Secretary Ricardo Gutiérrez at today’s OSCE SHDM. “This is the great paradox: at a time when the population most needs reliable, verified information, the media ecosystem is no longer able to fulfill its basic mission. Most European governments have not taken the urgent measures needed to ensure the economic viability of the media at this time of crisis. Instead of supporting the media, and thus access to quality information, which is the best antidote against disinformation, most governments have taken measures that restrict press freedom.”

The EFJ and its national affiliates witnessed an unprecedented wave of repression as part of the measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • excessive regulation of so-called “fake news” with a negative impact on journalists’ rights in Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, Romania and Russia;
  • arrests of journalists and prosecution of journalists who were just doing their job in Belarus, Poland, Serbia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Kosovo, Slovenia and Russia;
  • censorship measures against media in Hungary, Russia, Serbia, Moldova, Azerbaijan;
  • physical and verbal attacks on journalists in Spain, Serbia, Greece, Croatia, Ukraine, Italy and Kosovo;
  • measures restricting access to information in Turkey, Serbia, Romania, Greece, Spain.

In total, the EFJ affiliates have reported more than 60 press freedom violations related to anti-pandemic measures in 19 European countries.

Since 1st January this year, the EFJ has also co-signed or submitted 63 alerts concerning 21 European countries to the Council of Europe Platform to Promote the Protection of Journalism:

  • 9 alerts in Turkey;
  • 8 alerts in the United Kingdom;
  • 5 alerts in France;
  • 4 alerts in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia;
  • 3 alerts in Italy, Poland, Ukraine, Hungary and Russia;
  • 2 alerts in Belgium, Northern Macedonia, Sweden, Spain, Armenia, Slovenia and Bulgaria;
  • 1 alert in Germany, Greece, Malta and Estonia.

“As you know, states are supposed to respond to these alerts. Of the 63 alerts co-signed by the EFJ, only 22 – about one third – have been answered by states”, said Ricardo Gutiérrez, calling on again governments in Europe to take effective measures to support all journalists exposed to difficult and often dangerous conditions. “I ask you to check whether the violations I have just listed are in line with the OSCE Ministerial Council Decision on the safety of journalists. I am simply asking yopu to respect your own commitments to protect freedom of the media”.

Read also the opening remarks by the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Mr. Harlem Désir: here.