At the end of paragraph 2, add the following sentence:
“However, the Assembly notes that technological changes have also had a positive impact on journalists’ work, in particular by facilitating research, communication and the creation of international networks and globally accessible databases with journalistic sources and works.”
Replace paragraph 6.1 with the following paragraph:
“fully respect their obligations stemming from Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights as regards journalists and other media actors’ freedom of expression, and in particular their right not to reveal journalistic sources and their right to receive or impart information;”
After paragraph 6.1, insert the following paragraph:
“take all necessary measures to strengthen the safety of journalists and other media actors, to stop any harassment (including of a judicial, administrative or financial nature) against them and put an end to impunity for attacks against them, notably by conducting effective investigations into killings and other offences against their physical integrity; in this respect, member States of the Council of Europe should implement the guidelines set out in the appendix to Committee of Ministers Recommendation CM/Rec(2016)4 on the protection of journalism and safety of journalists and other media actors;”
Replace paragraph 6.2 with the following paragraph:
“6.2. review their domestic legislation on the status of journalists with a view to: 6.2.1. identifying any areas to be updated, taking recent technological and economic developments into account; 6.2.2. ensuring that such legislation protects journalists from arbitrary dismissal or reprisals and from precarious working conditions that may expose them to undue pressures obliging them to depart from accepted journalistic ethics and standards; 6.2.3. providing a legal definition of journalists wide enough to encompass all forms of contemporary journalistic work, including internet-based; 6.2.4. repealing disproportionally restrictive defamation laws and ensuring adequate procedural guarantees in libel proceedings brought against journalists;”
In paragraph 6.5, replace the words “between workers and employees” with “between employees and freelancers, on one hand, and employers, on the other”.
After paragraph 6.5, add the following paragraph:
“ensure that journalists’ right to freedom of association is respected, in particular as regards adhering to trade unions and journalists’ associations;”
After paragraph 8, add the following paragraph:
“The Assembly calls on member States to support the Platform to promote the protection of journalism and safety of journalists with adequate financial contributions and by co-operating in its functioning, in particular by responding to alerts and by engaging in follow-up initiated by the Secretary General.”
After paragraph 8, the following paragraph:
“The Assembly strongly condemns the assassinations of journalists Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta, Ján Kuciak in the Slovak Republic and Maxim Borodin in the Russian Federation. It calls on the Maltese and Slovak authorities to conduct effective investigations into these deaths, in line with the procedural guarantees stemming from Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights.”
This amendment aims at focusing on the positive developments of the digital era for journalists. New technologies do not only pose a threat to the freedom of expression and the profession of journalism, but they also provide new opportunities. For example, journalistic research has become much easier, as a vast amount of information has become easily and immediately accessible. Moreover, journalists can communicate more easily with each other as well as with their sources. International networks for journalists and globally accessible databases with journalistic sources and works have become a reality and allow collective journalism on a whole new level (like, for example, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which has worked on the “Panama” and “Paradise Papers” and the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, which disclosed the “Laundromat Affair”).
This amendment aims at slightly rephrasing paragraph 6.1 and at separating the issue of the protection of journalistic sourcesNote from that of journalists and other media actors’ safety (it is proposed to consider the latter in a separate amendment, see Amendment C). On numerous occasions, the European Court of Human Rights has stressed that the protection of journalistic sources is one of the basic conditions for press freedom. The amendment also proposes to mention the “right to receive or impart information”, which is crucial for journalists’ work.Note Moreover, it is also proposed to replace the word “media professionals” by “journalists and other media actors”, as the draft resolution and the report by Ms Drobinski-Weiss (see, in particular, its Section 2.1) are about “the status of journalists” and the proposed protections should extend also to other relevant media actors, as is the case under Committee of Ministers’ Recommendation CM/Rec(2016)4.
This amendment aims at considering the issue of journalists and other media actors’ safety in a separate paragraph. Furthermore, it is proposed to stress the necessity of preventing any form of harassment against journalists (of a judicial, administrative or financial nature) and of conducting effective investigations into killings and other offences committed against their physical integrity. In this context, it is also worth recalling Committee of Ministers Recommendation CM/Rec(2016)4. The appendix to this recommendation contains guidelines on what member States of the Council of Europe could do to ensure the safety of journalists and other media actors. The guidelines focus on four pillars: prevention, protection, prosecution (including a focus on fighting impunity) and promotion of information, education, and awareness-raising, and they offer detailed recommendations to member States on how to fulfil their relevant obligations within each pillar.
This amendment aims at adding additional considerations for member States when they review domestic legislation on the status of journalists. Therefore, it is proposed to keep the words “with a view to identifying any areas to be updated, taking recent technological and economic developments into account” and to insert them into a new paragraph.
Furthermore, in paragraph 6.2.2, it would be useful to stress that when reviewing their legislation, member States should also take into account the issue of protecting journalists from “arbitrary dismissals or reprisals and from precarious working conditions that may expose them to undue pressures obliging them to depart from accepted journalistic ethics and standards”, as stressed in the guidelines attached to Recommendation CM/Rec(2016)4.Note The issue of providing a stable legal framework for journalists’ work has been examined at length in Ms Drobinski-Weiss’s report (see Section 3.3) and deserves to be mentioned in the resolution. As stressed in the above-mentioned 2017 report by the Secretary General, arbitrary interference in the work of media professionals, licensing restrictions, censorship or self-censorship also restrict media freedom.Note
As regards paragraph 6.2.3, the issue of defining the profession of journalist constitutes the main subject matter of the report (see in particular Sections 2.1 and 5.1). Although the rapporteur does not strongly insist on this idea and stresses that the essence of the profession lies in the tasks and not in the definition of the profession, she considers that “… a legal definition of journalists may be useful for protecting their rights (including the right to keep their information sources secret) as well as for drawing a clear distinction between a professional journalist and a blogger. In countries where there is no legal definition of a journalist it might be advisable for legislators to consider this matter”.Note Therefore, in light of this proposal by the rapporteur, it would be useful to mention it in the resolution and to recommend to certain member States to give thought to a definition of “journalist”, which should be wide enough to encompass all forms of journalistic work, including internet-based (such as certain categories of bloggers, who often have more readers than many traditional media, Ms Caruana GaliziaNote being a tragic example).
Concerning paragraph 6.2.4, it is also proposed to repeal disproportionately restrictive defamation legislation. In some member States, including Azerbaijan and Iceland, criminal laws foresee prison sentences as a criminal sanction against defamation. Even if such laws are not always applied, they curtail freedom of expression. Moreover, in the event of libel proceedings, there should be sufficient procedural guarantees ensuring that journalists enjoy their right to a fair trial as enshrined in Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ETS No. 5).
This amendment aims mainly at replacing the words “workers” (which is not appropriate in the context of journalists) by “employees and freelancers”. As explained in Ms Drobinski-Weiss’s report, due to the outsourcing of work contracts, the number of journalists who are forced to practise their profession as so-called “freelancers” has considerably increased. Despite the fact that their legal status differs from that of journalists employed under the provisions of labour law, they often work under the same conditions as full-time employees. This category of journalist should also be included in the dialogue with their “employers”.
This amendment is aimed at adding a new paragraph to put emphasis on journalists’ right to association, as enshrined in Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Any attempt to try to define the status of this profession should take into account the existence of this right and the report by Drobinski-Weiss rightly focuses on the role of trade unions and/or professional organisations.
This amendment aims at recalling the existence of the Council of Europe’s Platform to promote the protection of journalism and safety of journalists, launched in April 2015. The Assembly should call on member States to further support the Platform by providing financial contributions and co-operating with respect to its functioning, in particular by responding to alerts and by engaging in follow-up initiated by the Secretary General.
This amendment aims at condemning the recent assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta, Ján Kuciak in the Slovak Republic and Maxim Borodin in the Russian Federation and at calling on the competent national authorities to conduct effective investigations into their deaths. Recently, the Committee of Ministers has replied to a written question by our colleague Mr Pieter Omtzigt (Netherlands, EPP/CD) concerning the assassination of Ms Caruana Galizia. The Committee of Ministers had twice received information on the ongoing judicial investigations in Malta and it did not see “any reason for taking additional measures”. It is “confident that the Maltese authorities will continue to make appropriate use of all the means and mechanisms in place both in the Council of Europe and at domestic level and in full respect of the fundamental values and standards of the Council of Europe”.Note In the meantime, a large number of members of the Assembly, including myself, lodged a motion for a resolution calling for the elucidation of the assassination of Ms Caruana GaliziaNote and the Bureau decided to seize our committee for report.Note As the drafting of this report might take some time, it is important to call again on the Maltese authorities to ensure an effective investigation into the journalist’s death. Moreover, it is also necessary to condemn the assassination of Ján Kuciak, which took place on 21 February 2018, and the recent assassination of Maxim Borodin and to call on the authorities to conduct an effective investigation into these tragic events.