On World Press Freedom Day celebrated on 3 May, Lord George Foulkes (United Kingdom, SOC), General Rapporteur on media freedom and the safety of journalists for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), has recalled once again the fundamental role of journalists and the media in democratic societies.
“The independent press is today more necessary than ever. Professional journalists, and in particular investigative journalists, make a wonderful watchdog job looking into corruption and the abuse of power. Moreover, in the era of disinformation and propaganda, professional reliable journalism is vital for the citizens to be accurately and thoroughly informed on issues of general interest, to make well informed choices, including in the election times, and to avoid being manipulated and dominated,” he said.
“However, the conditions in which the press operates today is often worrying: threats, harassment, legal and administrative restrictions and undue political and economic pressure are widespread. Investigative journalists in particular are physically attacked, arbitrarily imprisoned, tortured or even murdered,” Lord Foulkes added. According to the information published by the Council of Europe Platform to promote the protection of journalism and safety of journalists, from 2015 to date, 25 journalists have been killed, including 17 cases where there has been impunity, and 135 journalists are currently in detention.
“This situation is totally unacceptable. Our member States have a positive obligation to protect media freedom and journalists’ safety. There is an urgent need for the Council of Europe to develop more effective measures to better identify the risks and prevent excesses in order to respond quickly and effectively to any attacks on the safety of journalists and media freedom.
Celebrating World Press Freedom Day, I pay special tribute to those courageous journalists who do their job despite the risks and pressures, or hard conditions they live in,” concluded Lord Foulkes.