Italy: Journalists face fresh violence covering ‘green pass’ protests

The undersigned partners of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) are highly concerned about yet another series of violent attacks and threats to journalists and media workers covering protests against the government’s pandemic-related measures across Italy.  Several incidents of hostility and violence towards media were reported in Rome on 9 October, when journalists and photojournalists were attacked while reporting on a protest by anti-vaccine and far-right groups against government measures to require all workers to carry the EU Digital COVID Certificate. Photojournalist Francesco Cocco, a contributor to daily newspaper Il Foglio, said he was deliberately kicked in the groin and…

Greece: Justice Ministry must withdraw amendment on ‘false news’

The European Federation of Journalists today joined its partners of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) in urging the Greek government to withdraw proposed amendments which would introduce fines and jail sentences for journalists found guilty of publishing “false news”. We believe the draft law’s vague definition and punitive sanctions would undermine the freedom of the press and have a chilling effect at a time when independent journalism is already under pressure in Greece. The proposed amendments to Article 191 of the Civil Code, brought forward by the Ministry of Justice, would include penalties for those found guilty of disseminating…

Albania: MFRR urges government to scrap new Media and Information Agency

The undersigned partners of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) today express serious concern over a new Media and Information Agency (MIA) established by the government of Prime Minister Edi Rama in Albania and urge the ruling Socialist Party to immediately cancel its establishment to ensure it will not be used to further solidify control over the flow of public information. We also urge the European Union to immediately engage with the Albanian government to raise these concerns as a matter of priority in future accession talks. Plans for the new agency, announced during the first session of the new…

Northern Ireland: MFRR partners join call for justice for Martin O’Hagan

Twenty years ago today, Sunday World journalist Martin O’Hagan was shot dead in Lurgan, Northern Ireland. To this day, no one has been held to account for his brutal murder. The undersigned partners in the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) stand in solidarity with O’Hagan’s family, colleagues and friends as we call for justice in his case.  On 28 September 2001, O’Hagan was shot several times from a passing car while walking home from a local pub with his wife, who was not hurt in the attack. As a reporter, O’Hagan specialised in stories about drug gangs and paramilitary organisations.…

Croatia: Temporary reporting injunction on the Association of Independent Media Culture must be lifted

The Municipal Civil Court of Zagreb, Croatia, imposed a temporary reporting injunction on the publisher of the news website H-alter following a series of articles about the Child and Youth Protection Centre’s work irregularities. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) joined its affiliates, the Croatia Journalists’ Association (CJA) and the Trade Union of Croatian Journalists (TUCJ), in denouncing a direct form of censorship. On 21 September 2021, the Croatian judiciary ordered to stop the articles’ publication and to bar H-alter from further investigation into the actions of the Health Polyclinic for the Protection of Children and Youth of the City of Zagreb, the only…

Romania: Filmmakers badly beaten while shooting documentary on illegal logging

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) joined its partners in the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) as well as its affiliate in Romania, the FAIR-MediaSind, to express serious concern over the brutal beating of two filmmakers who were shooting a documentary about illegal logging in Romania and call on the country’s prosecutor general and law enforcement authorities to ensure all those responsible are swiftly brought to justice. On 16 September 2021, journalist and freelance filmmaker Mihai Dragolea and director Radu Constantin Mocanu were attacked and badly beaten by around 20 people armed with sticks and axes while they were documenting…

MFRR partners welcome European Commission’s Recommendation on protection, safety and empowerment of journalists

The partner organisations in the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) welcome the European Commission’s Recommendation on ensuring the protection, safety and empowerment of journalists and media professionals in the European Union, presented today. The document is a testament to the Commission’s much-needed engagement in the defence of press freedom and media pluralism as critical elements of the Union’s foundational values in the face of increased attacks and threats to journalists and media workers across the region in recent years. At the same time, it serves as an indictment of the lack of meaningful action by a number of member states…

MFRR: EU action needed to tackle spyware abuses after Pegasus revelations

As the European Parliament today debates the Pegasus spyware scandal, the undersigned partners of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) call for an immediate investigation into the alleged use of the spyware against journalists by Hungarian authorities and urge the strong implementation of new EU rules on the export of cyber-surveillance technology around the world. Revelations by the Pegasus Project that at least 180 journalists in 20 countries had their phones infected by the NSO Group’s spyware underscored the need for urgent action by the international community to tackle the unregulated spread of such technology and to create safeguards for…

France: Journalist Thomas Dietrich interrogated for two hours by police

Police summoned Le Média journalist Thomas Dietrich to Puteaux police station (Paris), where he was interrogated for two hours over a recent journalistic investigation. The International and European Federations of Journalists (IFJ/EFJ) joined their affiliate in France, the SNJ-CGT, in denouncing the attempted intimidation and have called on the authorities to dismiss the groundless complaint against him. The summons followed a complaint filed by the former head of the Chadian political police, Mahamat Ismaël Chaïbo, for “threats to commit a crime or an offence” after the journalist went to his home in Paris to ask him questions. The journalist denied…