By Mogens Blicher Bjerregård, president of the European Federation of Journalists
In Turkey, local journalists are being put in prison while foreign journalists are being deported. Meanwhile, Poland changed its media law giving more power to the government and parliament.
These attacks on media freedom are being recorded by the Council of Europe (CoE) Platform on the protection and safety of journalists. In the past year, the CoE has recorded 125 alerts on media violations. Therefore, it is important to bring this issue on the top of the European agenda.
In February, a Danish journalist was detained and deported from Turkey adding to a total number of nine journalists who face restrictions from the Turkish authority. All these journalists arrested are linked to their reports on the Kurdish issue. The Kurdish issue is a no go area for journalists. The authority completely disregards media freedom which is an important pillar in a democratic country.
This is also the case in Poland. The government has turned the public broadcaster into their mouthpiece. Two years ago when I met with journalists and the management of the public broadcaster, the company is in a crisis with decline of licence fees and outsourcing problem.
In January, the EFJ together with the International Press Institute (IPI) and the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) carried out a solidarity and fact-finding mission to Poland. We met with journalists, editors, human rights activists, EU Ombudsman and a group of Members of the European Parliament. They expressed concerns over the situation in Poland and called for urgent actions.
It is not just in Turkey and Poland that media face attacks from governments. Public service broadcasters in Hungary, Spain and Greece are among the victims of government interference. When media are under legislative attacks, media pluralism and journalists will inevitably become the victims. If we let this trend spread to other countries, Europe’s democracy will be at stake. Therefore, it is paramount that we stand together to uphold our democratic values in order to withstand the test during this difficult period.
Source: European Federation of Journalists e-mail newsletter of March 1, 2016