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AEJ Media Freedom Representative’s Annual Report to the Offida Congress 2012

 

By William Horsley

 

 

William Horsley especially thanks for support on MF issues: Peter Kramer, AEJ Secretary-General; Christos Trikoukis, AEJ website manager; Celia Hampton, AEK-UK website manager; Krszysztof Bobinski, Polish Section (editing and writing news and 2012 mini-survey); contributing AEJ sections.

Campaigns, interventions, conferences and network events in 2011-2012: Areas and topics covered included Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, EU policies and “competences”; Turkey; Ukraine.

In 2011-12 the AEJ was consulted by/sent policy recommendations to the Council of Europe Secretariat and Steering Committee on Media and Information Society (CDMSI); Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE); European Commission; European Parliament; OSCE; United Nations (UNESCO etc).

Other cooperation/events with CoE Commissioner for Human Rights (new office-holder Nils Muiznieks from April 2012; European Court of Human Rights; Access Info Europe; Centre for Freedom of the Media (UK University of Sheffield) etc.

AEJ 2011 Bucharest Congress: Debates on MF issues and attacks/jailings of journalists in Central & Eastern Europe and Turkey: see AEJ website, Euractiv coverage.

Turkey: AEJ VP Saiah Tsaousidou took part in EFJ-led delegation to campaign for release of Sener, Sik (now released) and approx 100 other journalists in jail; several AEJ campaigns, coordinated with AEJ VP Dogan Tilic against imprisonment of journalists and Turkey’s repressive laws on media, terrorism etc.

Hungary: AEJ supported petition against new media laws, website coverage of negative assessments of media laws by Council of Europe, OSCE etc.

OSCE: Safety of Journalists Handbook by AEJ MF Rep was published in March 2012, commissioned by Lithuania’s OSCE Chairmanship (2011) and OSCE Rep on MF, Dunja Mijatovic (in English and Russian – for copies, ask joanna.jinks@osce.org).

Major events

8 May 2012 – AEJ 50th anniversary event in European Parliament, Brussels:

“Is the EU competent for press freedom in Europe? Media Freedom in the EU Member States and Croatia”.

Chaired by Eileen Dunne, AEJ President. Speakers included Commissioner Neelie Kroes, W. Horsley, Renate Weber, Rapporteur for MF in the EP etc.

AEJ MF Rep presented recommendations to the European Commission and EP for better protections of MF (based on European Convention on Human Rights – ECHR):

Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) to have mandate for monitoring press freedom.

EU member states to review EU laws and practices to conform with the ECHR before/as part of the process of EU accession to the ECHR.

EU commits to active support for press freedom and journalists’ protection moves in the Council of Europe, OSCE and UN – in line with the Council of Europe Ministers’ Decision on “Media freedom” of 18 January 2012.

Follow-up: Extensive coverage on AEJ websites and elsewhere.

William Horsley contributed recommendations to the EU’s Centre for Media Freedom and Media Pluralism (European University Institute, Florence). The Centre’s Report on EU Competences for Press Freedom to be published on 29 October 2012 (Florence).

 

 

 

AEJ offered input to Renate Weber’s recommendations to the EP for “a big step forward” to "strengthen safeguards for press freedom in seven EU member states". She cited heightened concerns about the new media laws in Hungary and the decline in media freedom in Italy, Bulgaria and Romania. Possible courses of action: monitoring, “backup intervention”, stronger self-regulation; EU legislation.

3 May 2012 – World Press Freedom Day

Topical events in various sections – including Armenia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Ireland, Netherlands, Romania, Turkey and UK. Coverage on AEJ website.

Council of Europe – AEJ Observer Member of (new) CDMSI – Steering Committee on Media and Information Society

Worked to ensure CoE focus and priority on:

Improved protections for Article 10 (Freedom of Expression) – monitoring database; focus on “positive obligations” of member states for media freedom and protection of journalists from violence and legal abuses (false imprisonment etc).

Anti-terrorism law reviews – national parliaments/governments to review laws and practices – AEJ cooperation with EFJ and others. Council of Europe continued to fail to implement earlier pledges to tighten media-unfriendly anti-terrorism laws and practices.

Council of Europe – Committee of Ministers “thematic debates” on media freedom/safety of journalists – December 2011 to 28 March 2012

AEJ sent letters with proposals for tough Council of Europe actions to CoE Secretary-General Jagland; and to CoE Chairmanship (UK) in first half of 2012. Committee of Ministers

Text (extract):…In order to guarantee freedom of expression and information, called on member States to take all appropriate steps to ensure the protection of journalists, other media professionals and bloggers, both as regards preventive measures and effective investigation;

…Tasked the CDMSI to examine possible initiatives to be taken within the framework of the Council of Europe to strengthen this protection, taking into account the work conducted by other international organisations, as well as to foster ethical journalism, and to report back in due course.

2013 autumn CoE Ministerial Conference, Belgrade:

Journalism and Internet issues: Open Internet, Media Freedom, Trust in Media; Media regulation and self-regulation –TBA.

Parliamentary Assembly (PACE):

William Horsley wrote the background report, “The State of Media Freedom in Europe” (May 2012), an assessment covering 2009-2012, in support of a PACE Recommendation/Resolution in late 2012/early 2013. Delivered to PACE Assembly in Strasbourg, June 2012. Council of Europe (or google Horsley and “State of Media Freedom in Europe 2012”).

AEJ MF “Mini-Survey”:

For AEJ Offida Congress, the Armenia, Austria, Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine sections prepared short “issues-based MF reports” for the attention of the Council of Europe:

Follow-up: To be published on the website; responses awaited from Council of Europe.

New topic: United Nations plan of action on safety of journalists and the issue of impunity

Approved by the United Nations in April 2012. www.unesco.org (Communications and Info).

Follow-up: 22-23 November UN Inter-agency meeting in Vienna (UNESCO, UNDP, Office of High Commissioner for Human rights etc) + AEJ input into UN/UNESCO Implementation Strategy for the UN Action Plan (2012-14).

 

 

 

Media Freedom Reports

2012

2011

2011 [link to aej.org]

2010

2009

2008