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‘Europe is unfortunately not a safe haven for media freedom’ says PACE General Rapporteur

Freedom of the press is at risk

“Europe is unfortunately not a safe haven for media freedom, and this needs to change. Council of Europe member States should enforce the standards that they have endorsed and commit themselves more at international level to uphold media freedom; it is time to act!” said Mogens Jensen (Denmark, SOC), General Rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on media freedom and the protection of journalists.

“Every year on 3 May we mark World Press Freedom Day, and we want to recall how important media freedom is in upholding our shared values. Journalists and a free media play a key role in keeping citizens informed, raising awareness and encouraging critical thinking on major societal issues and questions of public interest. We are used to saying that there is no true democracy without effective media freedom; but year after year World Press Freedom Day also reminds us of dozens of journalists killed, hundreds jailed, thousands subjected to threats, intimidation and violence, all over the world - including in Europe,” Mr Jensen said.

In 2022 the Council of Europe’s Platform to promote the protection of journalism and safety of journalists reported 289 alerts concerning 37 member States of the Council, he recalled. “Moreover, only a few alerts are followed up by member States and few cases are eventually resolved,” he added.

“Some trends are particularly worrying: impunity for those responsible for criminal acts against journalists; threats to women journalists, particularly online harassment; legal harassment and criminalisation of journalism; backsliding on the independence of public service media; and ‘media capture’ by governments that do not accept the existence of critical voices,” Mr Jensen underlined.

“As the war in Ukraine continues to rage, the work of journalists in the biggest conflict in Europe since the Second World War, putting their lives at risk, is crucial to keeping the public informed. I also wish to express my solidarity with journalists in Belarus and Russia,” the PACE General Rapporteur concluded.