Media freedom under serious threat in many European countries

PACE has expressed its concern at the many cases of serious threats to media freedom in Europe listed by the Platform to promote the protection of journalism and safety of journalists, set up by the Council of Europe in 2015. A resolution adopted today by the Assembly, on the basis of a report by Volodymyr Ariev (Ukraine, EPP/CD), highlights the death of 16 journalists since January 2015 following acts of violence in the member States.

PACE is particularly concerned about “the dramatic situation of media and journalists in Turkey” and calls on the Turkish authorities to “release from detention all journalists who have not been indicted for actively participating in terrorist acts” and to “review emergency decrees” in so far as they order the seizure of media companies and allow the arrest of writers and media staff.

The parliamentarians also highlight the worrying situation in the Russian Federation, the Crimean Peninsula occupied by Russia, and in the eastern parts of Ukraine, and reiterate their concern with regard to retaliation against media in Azerbaijan, deploring in particular the use of criminal laws against journalists and bloggers.

The Assembly also regrets the fact that media freedom is absent in other territories of member States which are de facto controlled by separatist regimes, namely in Nagorno-Karabakh of Azerbaijan, Abkhazia and South Ossetia of Georgia, and Transnistria of the Republic of Moldova.

The parliamentarians also discussed the media situation in Hungary, Poland, Georgia and Belarus.

In addition, PACE points out that the independence of public broadcasters from governments must be guaranteed, emphasising that “governments and parliaments must not interfere in the daily management and editorial work of such broadcasters”, which should establish in-house codes for the conduct of journalists and for editorial independence from political sides.

Lastly, the Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers should allocate adequate resources to the functioning of the Platform, enabling targeted follow-up to alerts.