Publication Date: April 2020
Publisher: Council of Europe

In 2019, Europe was an intense and often dangerous battleground for press freedom and freedom of expression.

The Council of Europe’s Platform to promote the protection of journalism and the safety of journalists (the Platform) recorded 142 serious threats to media freedom, including 33 physical attacks against journalists, 17 new cases of detention and imprisonment, 43 cases of harassment and intimidation, and two new cases of impunity for murder. Taken together, these alerts show a growing pattern of intimidation to silence journalists that requires urgent actions by member states to uphold the essential role of a free press in democratic societies.

At the end of 2019, at least 105 journalists were behind bars in Turkey, Azerbaijan, the Russian Federation and the Russian-controlled Ukrainian territory of Crimea.

The Platform’s expanding database now includes verified data covering five years. It shows that media houses and journalists not only increasingly face threats to their physical safety, but also that many of those who suffer attacks or abuse at the hands of public officials, law enforcement or protesters do not receive justice. Moreover, the data show that digital security is under pressure, and that it has become much more difficult for journalists to protect their communication with whistle-blowers and other confidential sources.

This 2020 annual report opens with an overview of the alerts recorded in 2019 and an assessment of the main underlying trends.

It then provides a closer analysis of key topics or themes including impunity, legal and online harassment, the impact of the fight against “fake news”, public service and Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs), and a focus on selected countries and regions of special concern.

The report also contains a statistical breakdown of the alerts.

The report was launched during a press conference on 29 April 2020: here the video.

Tags: Safety of journalists SLAPP Council of Europe Member States

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