Journalists’ protection. New recall by the Council of Europe
The Committee of Ministers in Strasbourg has given recommendations to the 47 member states, stressing the need for threat monitoring
The Recommendations on issues relative to freedom of the press and the protection of journalists, addressed on April 13, 2016 by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to the governments of 47 countries, indicate a heightened concern on threats against journalists, due to the attacks on the freedom of information deriving from defaults and arrears in the body of law. They also contain a point to address the problem of monitoring the situation in individual countries by creating permanent observation centers managed by civil society or attached to it, with the public support and ensuring their independence from governments.
The Recommendation opens by defining “alarming and unacceptable” the fact that journalists are “increasingly” intimidated, threatened, made the object of violence and physical aggression, especially when “dealing with abuse of power, corruption, violation of human rights, terrorism and fundamentalism”,”widely documented abuses and crimes”. National and international bodies are required to strengthen the protection and security of journalists. As for defamation: the laws must adapt to European and international standards of human rights, avoiding the chilling effect of the provisions that criminalize certain aspects of the right to information. Imprisonment for press offenses should be envisaged only when it incites violence and racial hatred.
The protection and safety of journalists and other media workers are considered by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe “a precondition to ensure their ability to participate effectively in the public debate. The persistence of acts of intimidation, threats and violence against journalists, combined to the inability to bring to justice the perpetrators of these crimes, raise concern and have a chilling effect on freedom of expression.”