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New online ‘rapid reaction’ platform for journalists facing threats

Diplomats could come to the aid of editors or journalists facing intimidation or violence under plans for an online “rapid reaction” alert system to be unveiled at a major parliamentary conference on media freedom in Paris on 4 December 2014.

Editors from Le Monde and the BBC, as well as journalists from investigative newspapers in Russia and Ukraine, are due to take part in the conference, organised jointly by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and the French Senate.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius is invited to take part in the conference, during which Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland and media freedom partner agencies* are expected to sign a “memorandum of understanding” on the creation of the new platform.

The conference, to be opened by PACE President Anne Brasseur and the Chair of the French Senate’s Committee on Culture, Education and Communication Catherine Morin-Desailly, will hold separate sessions on protecting journalists against physical attacks and against abusive use of the law, as well as on how the “rapid reaction” platform would work in detail.

Under the proposals, first put forward by PACE in 2010, trusted media freedom partners would be able to post “alerts” on a public, centralised online platform when individual journalists are in danger or their work is under threat – opening the way for swift reactions from international organisations which uphold media freedom standards, such as the Council of Europe, OSCE Media Freedom Representative, EU and UN.

Alerts would include factual information – vetted by the partners – on physical threats to journalists and other media actors, as well as their sources; invasions of privacy or judicial intimidation of journalists through abusive use of laws on defamation, national security, or extremism. The platform would also show action taken by the Council of Europe in response, as well as regular reports and the comments of the member States concerned.

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The conference takes place in the Salle Clémenceau of the French Senate (Palais du Luxembourg, 15 rue de Vaugirard, 75006 Paris) from 9am to 1pm and 2.30pm to 4.30pm, and is open to the press.

Accreditation:
PACE Communication Division (e-mail pace@coe.int) by 2 December.

Contacts:
PACE Communication Division, Angus Macdonald (tel +33 6 30 49 68 20)
Council of Europe Directorate of Communications, Estelle Steiner (tel +33 6 08 46 01 57)

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* International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), European Federation of Journalists, Association of European Journalists (AEJ), Reporters Without Borders (RWB), Article 19.