The AEJ is active across the continent of Europe. Please visit its website, www.aej.org
The AEJ's Media Freedom Project
Continued from the Home page
The AEJ has challenged member states to put aside narrow state interests to better protect the lives and rights of journalists who work to hold power to account.
The CoE's Committee of Ministers has acknowledged the severe threat to European democracy that stems from violence against journalists and restrictions on press freedom, and in response issued its Declaration of 13 January 2010 on measures to promote respect for Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights, and its Decision of 18 January 2012 to "strengthen the impact of [the CoE's] activities in the field of media freedom".
The AEJ welcomes the renewed focus on these issues but says that clearly the steps being proposed, such as an unspecified “information-gathering” system and an annual thematic debate among Ministers’ Deputies, are still far from adequate. We call on the CoE to set up effective new mechanisms for monitoring and intervention, backed by a clear and tangible demonstration of political will. Those things are urgently needed to counter the alarming spread of violent attacks and legal abuses directed at journalists.
A broad coalition of expert organisations and stakeholders, including the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), Article 19, Reporters Without Borders and the International Press Institute (IPI), as well as the AEJ, is demanding more effective and coherent actions by governments within Europe and beyond to reverse these dangerous and widespread patterns of violence, intimidation and censorship.
Already in 2009, AEJ Media Freedom Representative William Horsley wrote the Respect for Media Freedom Report for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), chronicling the killings of 20 journalists in the previous three years and a widespread pattern of violence and abuse of state power directed at journalists because of their work.
That report helped to inform the PACE Recommendation to Ministers aimed at countering threats to press freedom, including violence, arbitrary prosecutions and jailings of journalists, editorial interference and excessive secrecy.
The AEJ deeply regrets that European ministers have failed to enact the needed safeguards recommended by parliamentarians, and have so far failed to implement their own 2010 Declaration on Respect for Article 10. We are committed to working constructively with others to improve the record of the Council of Europe in protecting the universal right to freedom of expression.
Governments have also signally failed to fulfil their pledge at the 2009 Ministerial Conference in Reykjavik to review anti-terrorism laws and practices to ensure compliance with Council of Europe norms and standards. Many journalists are being unlawfully prosecuted and jailed because state secrecy and terrorism laws are misused for political purposes in CoE member states.
Leading European NGOs and human rights experts have written three
times to the CoE Secretary General in person – most recently in a letter
dated 8 February 2012 – to urge him to take steps urgently to
remedy this lapse. But Mr Jagland
The explicit protest of many of the world
The AEJ supports other
CoE campaigns, including anti-discrimination in the media (since
2009). William Horsley and Zdenko Duka (
The AEJ expects that the CoE Ministerial Conference to be held in
Belgrade in 2013 will take stock in a transparent way of the successes and
failures of the organisation
Please refer to Past Events for news from previous years
3 May 2013
World Press Freedom Day was celebrated by AEJ sections across Europe. The UK section supported the NUJ's meeting on 2 May on solidarity with Turkish journalists. UNESCO's annual conference was held in Costa Rica on 2-4 May. William Horsley, AEJ Media Freedom Representative, spoke on fighting impunity for crimes of violence against journalists.
30 April 2013
Europe guilty too as World Press Freedom Day targets growing threats to journalists. This is a blog written by William Horsley for the BBC Academy's College of Journalism website.
22 March 2013
The AEJ welcomed the announcement of a public consultation on media freedom and pluralism in the EU by Commissioner Neelie Kroes on 22 March. The AEJ has told the Commission that we will take part actively in the debate on the role and powers of the EU in safeguarding media freedom in the face of multiple threats, especially those arising from misuses of state power against independent media.
7 February 2013
The AEJ's Media Freedom Representative addressed the final conference of the Mediadem Project in Brussels on 7 February on the instruments and processes that would best support free and independent media in democratic societies. The AEJ had been a partner in the EU-sponsored Mediadem Project with the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy and the European Platform of Regulatory Authorities. Its comparative research findings and its recommendations were presented to the conference. The Mediadem website has published a full account of the conference.
17 January 2013
By the end of 2012, UNESCO’s record showed that as many as 115 journalists were killed during the year.
Journalists and NGOs from Europe, with representatives of the Council of Europe and OSCE, played an active part in an important UN conference in Vienna late last year. Members of the global media community delivered the London Statement on journalists' safety and the impunity that often protects those responsible for the deaths of journalists. See video (5min20sec).
Since then, UNESCO has consulted further with media organisations and others and drawn up an ambitious implementation strategy for the UN Plan, including 120 lines of action by UN agencies, governments and social groups.
15 January 2013
The latest in-depth report for the Council of Europe on the State of Media Freedom in Europe finds that physical assaults and judicial harassment of journalists and media workers in southern and eastern Europe grew more intense in the second half of 2012. The report was written by AEJ Media Freedom Representative William Horsley at the request of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. For a summary, see www.aej.org
9 November 2012
On 6 November, William Horsley addressed the European Parliament hearing in Brussels on media freedom in the EU. He called on the EU to defend media freedom and to safeguard journalists' physical safety in accordance with the European Convention and Council of Europe standards.
1 November 2012: A very successful session was held at the AEJ's annual congress at Offida on 26 October. The AEJ's international website includes a report of the event. Overviews by William Horsley and Krzysztof Bobinski and reports from nine countries with major media freedom problems appear on the Media Freedom Survey page.
26 June 2012: The Report on the state of media freedom in Europe 2009-12 was presented to the Council of Europe by its author, William Horsley, on 26 June. It studies the situation in CoE member countries and makes disturbing reading.
17 June 2012: William Horsley has called on the BBC to lead by example in the defence of press freedom and journalistic independence throughout the greater Europe in a forceful blog on Open Democracy.
8 May 2012: The European Parliament and AEJ held a seminar in Brussels on "Media Freedom in the EU Member States". See the AEJ's internatonal website, including a full report by Krzysztof Bobinski of the AEJ's Polish Section.
3 May 2012: The UK World Press Freedom Day Debate was on the theme "Strasbourg: Journalists' Foe or Friend?"
20 April 2012: UK hails "substantial" reforms of Europe's Human Rights Court, but what difference will they make? – Report by William Horsley on the Brighton Conference on reform of the European Convention on Human Rights.
5 April 2012: Pressure on Turkey to release all 95 journalists in jail has been stepped up by the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media. A new report highlights the use of anti-terrorism and other laws to silence those reporting the Kurdish struggle for civil and political rights. See www.aej.org
13 March 2012: The AEJ called on the Turkish government to put a stop to the bullying of employees and union-busting techniques used by the Anatolian News Agency. See www.aej.org
19 January 2012: The UN Human Rights Committee gave its definitive interpretation of article 19 of the International Covenant, published as “General Comment 34”. Professor Michael O’Flaherty, the Committee’s Deputy Chair, gave a speech in June outlining the Committee’s main findings at the Vilnius Conference on the safety of journalists (below).
7 December 2011: Firdevs Robinson, an experienced journalist and editor and AEJ UK Section member, raised a thorny question at a recent Council of Europe gathering in Luxembourg on the controversial issue of the media’s role in promoting inter-religious dialogue. Read her comment here
5 December 2011:
William Horsley has authored the Guidebook
on Safety of Journalists for the 56 states of the Organisation
for Security and Cooperation in
The Guidebook sets out the obligations of OSCE participating states regarding all aspects of the safety of journalists, and describes best practice for protecting press freedom and freedom of expression in democratic societies. See also 13 June 2011, below.
12 November 2011: At the AEJ’s Bucharest Congress, the topic of the day-long debate was “Freedom and Responsibility in the Mass Media”. A resolution calling on the Turkish authorities to stop persecuting journalists was adopted.
22 October 2011: International Day to End Impunity – 23 November 2011. More than 500 journalists have been killed worldwide in the past 10 years, but in 9 out of 10 cases the killers have not been brought to justice.
The International Day is organised by IFEX, the International Freedom of Expression Exchange, and is supported by the AEJ. Each day from 1 to 23 November, the story of one journalist, writer or free expression advocate killed in the line of duty was featured on IFEX’s website. See video
13 June 2011: In the past ten years, 41 journalists have been the object of targeted murders in OSCE countries. AEJ Media Freedom Representative William Horsley called on the 56 member states to ratify the Vilnius Recommendations put forward at an OSCE conference on the safety of journalists on 7-8 June (see his report).
William Horsley is also active in the Initiative on Impunity and the Rule of Law (above), a joint project of the University of Sheffield and City University. He has written a study of the political aspects that accompanies a study of the legal instruments needed to give effect to the initiative. Both documents can be found on the Sheffield website, together with many other contributions made at a conference on the initiative, held at City University on 1 June.
30 May 2011 – The Council of Europe's Secretary General appointed a special envoy to assess freedom of expression in Turkey. See CoE press release
28 March 2011: In response to a further serious
deterioration of media freedom conditions in
Why? What is happening in Turkey? by AEJ Vice-President L Dogan Tilic
Please sign the petition calling for the release journalists in prison and repeal of the laws that were used to punish them
27 January 2011 – Media self-regulation and codes of ethics are good, but free and independent media can only exist if governments themselves practise self-restraint and hold back from attempts to own, control or manipulate the media. This message was urged by the AEJ’s Media Freedom Representative, William Horsley, at a UNESCO Conference for international journalists.
21 January 2011 – The documents delivered to the AEJ's 2010 congress in Ordu, Turkey, are now available online. These include country reports on Armenia, Belarus, Bulgaria (PowerPoint) and Ukraine, and "Information without Borders" – a speech by Birgitta Jonsdottir, Icelandic MP and author of the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative. See also Survey