European Federation of Journalists

Commissioner Muižnieks calls on Poland to protect the independence of public media

The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks, issued a statement today, at the end of a four-day visit to Poland. He expressed concerns at the adoption in December 2015 of transitional legislation in the field of public service media, pending the adoption of a wider reform in this area, expected before the summer 2016. “Placing public service media under direct government control by giving the latter the powers to appoint and dismiss the members of the supervisory and management boards of public service television and radio contradicts Council of Europe standards which notably require that public service media…

CoE Human Rights Commissioner intervenes for Khadija Ismayilova

Arrested since December 5, 2014, female investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova was sentenced in September 2015 by an Azerbaijani court to 7,5  years in prison. The journalist, member of the OCCRP and known for her investigative work exposing state-level corruption in Azerbaijan, was first accused of incitement to suicide which have been replaced by new charges related to tax evasion, abuse of power and illegal business activities. The case is believed to be retaliation for exposing state corruption in her reports, which involved senior government officials including the presidential family. The RFE/RL contributor was also financially fined for legal expenses and barred from holding…

Serbia: Journalists’ union SINOS protests against forced privatisation of media

Journalists’ Union of Serbia (SINOS, EFJ-IFJ affiliate) and the Professional Association of Journalists of Serbia (PROUNS) held today (08/07/2015) an indignation rally outside the building of the Serbian Constitutional Court. SINOS members demanded the Constitutional Court to take into consideration the initiative for assessing the constitutionality of the new law on public information submitted by several media associations almost a year ago. According to SINOS, the new law could hamper the transparency of media ownership resulting in some tycoons and political parties owning most of the media. In August 2014, the Serbian Parliament adopted a new package of media legislation (Law on…

Commissioner Muiznieks: “Media freedom in Bulgaria is threatened by a combination of practices”

“Despite existing legal guarantees, media freedom in Bulgaria is currently impeded or threatened by a combination of practices which, taken together, create an environment conducive to widespread self- censorship among journalists and undue external pressure on media,” said the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks in a special report published today (22/06/2015) about the situation of human rights and media freedom in Bulgaria. “This new report published by the Commissioner for Human Rights confirms the bad reputation of the Bulgarian media. The country is regularly named as the lowest ranking European Union member state for media freedom in several international…

Nils Muižnieks: “We need to ensure the viability of both independent media and NGOs”

The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks, presented today in Strasbourg his annual activity report 2014. The Commissioner is concerned by the “increased pressure against NGOs and the media in many Council of Europe member states”. Nils Muižnieks quoted the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) in his report. Here are some excerpts. “NGOs and the media play an extremely important role in safeguarding human rights more broadly. Where large parliamentary majorities govern and other checks and balances are weakened, NGOs and the media are often the sole remaining watchdogs able and willing to keep the authorities accountable before the law.…

Turkish cartoonists sentenced to jail for insulting Erdogan

Turkish cartoonists Bahadir Baruter and Ozer Aydogan, from the Turkish satirical magazine Penguen, have been found guilty of insulting Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a cartoon on the cover of the magazine’s August issue. The court sentenced both cartoonists to 11 months and 20 days in prison on March 24. That sentence was subsequently commuted to a fine of 7,000 Liras (2,500 euros) each. The cartoon depicted newly elected Erdogan arriving at his presidential palace and saying: “What a bland celebration. We could have at least sacrificed a journalist.” The prosecutor alleged that the cartoon was insulting in that one…

Serbia: “The safety of journalists remains an issue of concern”

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) welcomes today the release of the report of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muižnieks, at the end of his visit to Serbia from 16 to 20 March. “As regards media freedoms, the Commissioner welcomes the adoption in August 2014 of three important media laws aiming to ensure media pluralism and transparency of ownership. However, the Commissioner regrets that the implementation of these laws and other media-related issues are being discussed in a highly polarised and politicised context.” “While urging the authorities to refrain from any actions and statements which may have a…