Marking World Press Freedom Day (3 May), Lord George Foulkes, General Rapporteur on media freedom and the safety of journalists for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), has highlighted the fundamental role of journalists and the media in democratic societies. In a statement, he reminded member States of their obligation to protect journalists’ security and media freedom.
“The plight of journalists in Europe has become more and more precarious in recent years. The 2018 ‘Reporters Without Borders’ Index denounces this decline, and the threat to our democracies that it represents. In several European countries restrictive laws, arbitrary reprisals and control of ownership of the main media outlets by magnates endanger press freedom,” he said.
“Insecurity is particularly pronounced in the case of investigative journalists looking into corruption or the misuse of power,” said Lord Foulkes. “They are threatened, harassed and arbitrarily imprisoned. They often work in an atmosphere of intimidation and fear. They face ever greater violence, and must risk their lives every day. The recent murders of Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta, Ján Kuciak in the Slovak Republic and Maxim Borodin in Russia are clear indicators of the unacceptably dangerous conditions in which journalists scrutinising and criticising those in power often work.”
“We must understand that the murders of journalists investigating corruption and abuse constitute a serious threat to the national security, foreign policy and economy of member States. This is an emergency situation, and the Parliamentary Assembly must continue to make all possible efforts at the political level to ensure press freedom in the member States. Investigative journalists are our eyes, our ears and our voices. Protecting them is protecting ourselves,” concluded Lord Foulkes.