Daphne Caruana Galizia Library

Press freedom groups visit Malta on five-year anniversary of…

Press freedom groups visit Malta on five-year anniversary of Daphne’s murder to push for reforms

Between 13 and 17 October 2022, an international press freedom mission will visit Malta, five years after the assassination of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia on 16 October 2017. The country visit follows up on similar missions held in previous years.

Representatives of ARTICLE 19 Europe, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the International Press Institute (IPI) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) have requested a meeting with the Prime Minister of Malta Robert Abela and relevant ministers in an attempt to continue the dialogue with the Maltese government. In addition, they will be meeting with civil society representatives, journalists and other key stakeholders.


The delegation will seek to meet with:

  • Prime Minister Robert Abela and relevant ministers (meeting to be confirmed);
  • Information and Data Protection Commissioner, Ian Deguara;
  • Members of the diplomatic community and representatives of the European Commission; and
  • Maltese journalists, media workers and civil society organisations.


Despite a broad outcry, including by the organisations represented in the delegation, for full justice and accountability for Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination, judicial proceedings have so far made very limited progress. Additionally, the Government has been slow to implement press freedom reforms recommended by the landmark Public Inquiry, and it has failed to organise proper public consultations on legislative proposals.


Accordingly, as in previous years, the continued need for justice and accountability for Caruana Galizia’s assassination will feature prominently on the delegation’s agenda. Additionally, representatives will also focus on the other systemic failings that continue to negatively affect Malta’s press freedom climate. They will also support Caruana Galizia’s family and national civil society as part of local commemoration events.

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Greece: Full scale of surveillance on journalists must be…

Greece: Full scale of surveillance on journalists must be unearthed

The partner organisations of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) today back calls for the testing of mobile devices belonging to journalists in Greece who suspect they may have been targets of intrusive spyware or other advanced surveillance.

The recent scandals regarding spyware attacks and wiretapping of journalists require full transparency and accountability, and have underscored deepening concerns about the erosion  of media freedom under the New Democracy government.


So far it has been revealed that in summer 2021 financial journalist Thanasis Koukakis had his phone hacked using a spyware tool called Predator. He was also separately wiretapped by the Greek security services under obscure “national security” grounds. There is also evidence that Stavros Malichudis, an investigative journalist for Solomon covering refugees and migration, was also surveilled by intelligence bodies in 2021.


Both cases represent major violations of journalists’ privacy, journalistic source protection and press freedom. In neither case has accountability been reached or the full truth revealed. Our organisations share concerns that these cases could potentially represent the tip of the iceberg of deeper surveillance of Greek journalists by state and private actors.


In late September, Greek journalists and foreign correspondents issued an appeal to the European Parliament for funding and facilities to test their mobile devices for traces of surveillance. Currently, the EU’s internal cyber-security mechanisms only have a mandate for testing the devices of MEPs and other EU officials.


As spyware and other advanced surveillance technologies become more prevalent across Europe in the coming years, the threat to democracy and civil rights will likewise increase. Already, multiple EU Member States – including Hungary – have abused these technologies to target journalists, activists and other members of civil society. In addition to tougher regulation, mechanisms must urgently be put in place to ensure that flagrant abuses of these cyber weapons against the media and others are swiftly identified and addressed.


Our organisations therefore support calls for the provision of funding from the European Union to help facilitate the testing of devices of journalists and other members of civil society in EU states where private forensic testing facilities are not available domestically, or where national authorities are unable or unwilling to help. This would give citizens and journalists, including those in Greece, a powerful tool to seek redress, help identify abusers of the technology and understand how deep the iceberg goes.


In addition to increased testing, additional steps must also be taken at the EU level to ensure that others do not join Greek journalists as victims of illegal surveillance. The European Commission’s recently launched European Media Freedom Act (EMFA) correctly recognises the recent evolution of surveillance threats and includes specific rules about the use of spyware against media, journalists and their families.


However, under the EMFA, Member States would retain exemptions that permit the surveillance of journalists using spyware without the need for prior judicial review in cases which involve threats to national security or other serious crimes investigations. This complete lack of legal oversight for use of military-grade spyware is highly problematic and leaves the door wide open to further abuses.


The fact that Thanasis Koukakis, a financial and banking journalist, and Stavros Malichudis, who was writing about a Syrian boy’s art prize at the time, were both wiretapped under “national security” justifications, offers worrying examples of how these exemptions are open to abuse by governments and intelligence agencies to spy on legitimate journalistic work. Article 4 of the EMFA must therefore be significantly strengthened if it wants to achieve real protection for journalists and their sources.


Moving forward, we also urge the European Parliament’s PEGA Committee of Inquiry to propose strong recommendations for tougher regulation on the sale, trade and use of these kinds of intrusive surveillance weapons inside and outside the European Union, and for far greater transparency from state institutions.


If and when additional infections are identified, both the surveillance-for-hire companies that market these tools, and any actors, including state intelligence or law enforcement bodies, who unjustifiably deploy them against journalists must be held accountable for these grave violations of fundamental rights.


Our organisations will continue to closely monitor the situation regarding media freedom in Greece and document all future attacks on journalists.

Signed by:

  • European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
  • Free Press Unlimited (FPU)
  • International Press Institute (IPI)
  • OBC Transeuropa (OBCT)

This statement was coordinated by the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), a Europe-wide mechanism which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States and Candidate Countries.

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Slovakia: Deputy PM’s attacks undermined government’s broader efforts to…

Slovakia: Deputy PM’s attacks undermined government’s broader efforts to strengthen press freedom

The undersigned international media freedom and journalists organisations today express dismay over the recent attempts by deputy Slovak Prime Minister Igor Matovič to denigrate the country’s media and warn they were undermining wider efforts by the government to improve the landscape for media freedom.

In recent weeks, Matovič, the former prime minister and current finance minister, launched numerous verbal attacks on the media, including insulting posts on Facebook which personally attacked the editor-in-chief of the newspaper Denník N, Matúš Kostolný, over a critical opinion piece.


Speaking in parliament, Matovič, who is also leader of the largest party in government, then accused unspecified media of being corrupt and during a speech on 29 September again accused the the country’s media of “spreading lies” and likened their journalism to Nazi propaganda.


These comments clearly overstepped the bounds of legitimate criticism and represented unacceptable attacks on independent journalism which were rightly condemned. Our organisations welcome Prime Minister Eduard Heger’s statement defending journalists and the criticism of the minister’s comments by nine MPs from his OĽANO party.


We also stand behind the powerful joint statement issued on September 30 by 22 of the country’s leading editors-in-chief, who condemned the minister’s rhetoric and refused to be pressured into silence for carrying out their role as public watchdogs.
While we note the statement of apology addressed by Matovič “to all honest journalists” on October 3, this will only have credibility if followed up by action. We therefore urge the minister to refrain from making any further unjustified accusations of the press and to recognise that public figures holding elected office have a duty to act responsibly and be prepared to accept a higher level of public scrutiny.


If repeated, Matovič’s attacks will undermine the coalition government’s broader efforts to improve the landscape for press freedom. The parliament has passed important bills strengthening the protection of the confidentiality of journalistic sources, as well as increasing transparency of media ownership and funding. The Justice Ministry has tabled amendments to widen the scope of the Freedom of Information Act and decrease prison sentences for defamation. While full justice for the 2018 assassination of the journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée has not yet been reached, Slovak law-enforcement authorities are prosecuting corruption reported by journalists. Internationally, Slovakia has worked towards an ambitious European Media Freedom Act.


Moving forward, we hope to see the government continue this reform agenda and for an end to all further verbal attacks against the media. Our organisations will continue to closely monitor the situation in Slovakia in the coming weeks and months.

Signed by:

  • Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
  • ARTICLE 19 Europe
  • European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
  • European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)
  • Free Press Unlimited (FPU)
  • International Press Institute (IPI)
  • OBC Transeuropa (OBCT)

This statement was coordinated by the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), a Europe-wide mechanism which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States, Candidate Countries and Ukraine.

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Turkey disinformation bill Library

International Press Freedom Groups Condemn Turkey Disinformation Bill Placed…

International Press Freedom Groups Condemn Turkey Disinformation Bill Placed before Parliament

Twenty five international media freedom, freedom of expression and journalists’ organisations call on Members of Parliament (MPs) to vote against the bill on “disinformation and fake news,” which was submitted to parliament’s General Assembly on October 4 by the governing alliance of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).


Açıklamanın Türkçesi aşağıdadır. / Turkish translation available below.

The bill, which was first submitted to parliament in June before being postponed after the commission stages due to alleged differences between the two governing parties, has been resubmitted this week without any amendments despite  fierce criticism from across civil society and the journalistic community.


The bill provides a framework for extensive censorship of online information and the criminalisation of journalism, which will enable the government to further subdue and control public debate in the leadup to Turkey’s general elections in 2023. 


The proposed bill provides for:

  • Up to three years imprisonment for those found guilty of deliberately publishing  “disinformation and fake news” intended to instigate fear or panic, endanger the country’s internal or external security, public order and general health of Turkey’s society.
  • An increase of any sentence by 50 percent where the information has been published from anonymous accounts, by someone concealing their identity, or as part of an organisation’s activities.
  • The expansion of the press law to include online news sites. This will enable the government to use the expanded role of the Press Advertising Agency, Basin Ilan Kurumu (BIK), to fund online propaganda while excluding critical outlets as has been applied in the print media.


The bill, with its vaguely formulated definition of disinformation and ‘intent’, overseen by Turkey’s highly politicised judiciary, will put millions of internet users at risk of criminal sanction and could lead to blanket censorship and self-censorship in the run up to the 2023 elections.


A consortium of media freedom and human rights organisations will be visiting Turkey 12 to 14 October to discuss the consequences of the disinformation bill with politicians and media stakeholders, as well as the challenges facing independent journalists in reporting public affairs in accordance with the principles of free and fair elections.  

Signed by:

  • ARTICLE 19
  • Articolo 21
  • Association of European Journalists
  • Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI)
  • Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
  • Danish PEN
  • English PEN
  • European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
  • European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)
  • Foreign Media Association (of Turkey) FMA
  • Freedom House
  • IFEX
  • International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
  • International Press Institute (IPI)
  • Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA)
  • Media Research Association (MEDAR)
  • Osservatorio Balcani Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT)
  • P24 Platform for Independent Journalism
  • PEN America
  • PEN International
  • PEN Norway
  • Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
  • South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO)
  • Swedish PEN
  • The Coalition For Women In Journalism (CFWIJ)

Uluslararası Basın Özgürlüğü Grupları Türkiye’de Meclise Sunulan Dezenformasyon Yasa Tasarısını Kınadı

Serbest bilgi akışını suç haline getirmek için tasarlanmış bir yasa 


Yirmi beş uluslararası medya özgürlüğü, ifade özgürlüğü ve gazeteci örgütü, milletvekillerine Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi (AKP) ve Milliyetçi Hareket Partisi (MHP) iktidar ittifakı tarafından 4 Ekim’de TBMM Genel Kurulu’na sunulan “dezenformasyon ve yalan haber” yasa tasarısına karşı oy kullanmaları çağrısında bulundu.


İlk olarak Haziran ayında meclise sunulan ancak iki iktidar partisi arasındaki görüş ayrılıkları nedeniyle komisyon aşamasından sonra ertelenen tasarı, sivil toplum ve gazetecilik camiasından gelen sert eleştirilere rağmen bu hafta hiçbir değişiklik yapılmadan yeniden meclis genel kuruluna sunuldu.


Tasarı, Türkiye’de 2023 yılında yapılacak genel seçimler öncesinde hükümetin kamusal tartışmayı daha da bastırmasına ve kontrol etmesine olanak sağlayacak şekilde, çevrimiçi bilginin kapsamlı bir şekilde sansürlenmesi ve habercilik faaliyetlerinin kriminalize edilmesi için bir çerçeve sunuyor. 


Tasarı şunları öngörmektedir

  • Korku veya panik yaratmak, ülkenin iç veya dış güvenliğini, kamu düzenini ve toplumun genel sağlığını tehlikeye atmak amacıyla kasıtlı olarak “dezenformasyon ve yalan haber” yayınlamaktan suçlu bulunan kişiler için üç yıla kadar hapis cezası.
  • Bilginin anonim hesaplardan, kimliğini gizleyen bir kişi tarafından ya da bir örgütün faaliyetlerinin bir parçası olarak yayınlanması durumunda cezanın yüzde 50 oranında artırılması.
  • Basın kanununun internet haber sitelerini de kapsayacak şekilde genişletilmesi. Bu sayede hükümet, Basın İlan Kurumu’nun (BİK) genişletilmiş rolünü kullanarak, yazılı basında olduğu gibi eleştirel yayın organlarını dışlarken, internet üzerinden propagandayı finanse edebilecek.


Muğlak bir ifade ile oluşturulmuş olan dezenformasyon ve ‘kasıt’ tanımlarıyla, Türkiye’nin son derece siyasallaşmış yargısı tarafından denetlenen tasarı, milyonlarca internet kullanıcısını da cezai yaptırım riskiyle karşı karşıya bırakacak ve 2023 seçimleri öncesinde kapsamlı bir sansüre ve otosansüre yol açabilecektir. 


Medya özgürlüğü ve insan hakları örgütlerinden oluşan bir konsorsiyum, dezenformasyon yasa tasarısının sonuçlarını siyasetçiler ve medya paydaşlarıyla tartışmak ve bağımsız gazetecilerin özgür ve adil seçim ilkelerine uygun olarak kamu meselelerini haberleştirmede karşılaştıkları zorlukları ele almak üzere 12-14 Ekim tarihleri arasında Türkiye’yi ziyaret edecek.  



  • Amerika PEN
  • Article 19
  • Articolo 21
  • Avrupa Basın ve Medya Özgürlüğü Merkezi (ECPMF)
  • Avrupa Gazeteciler Derneği (AEJ)
  • Avrupa Gazeteciler Federasyonu (EFJ)
  • Bağımsız Gazetecilik Platformu P24
  • Danimarka PEN
  • Gazetecileri Koruma Komitesi (CPJ)
  • Gazetecilikte Kadınlar Koalisyonu (CFWIJ)
  • Güneydoğu Avrupa Medya Kurumu (SEEMO)
  • İngiltere PEN
  • İsveç PEN
  • Medya Araştırmaları Derneği (MEDAR)
  • Medya ve Hukuk Çalışmaları Derneği (MLSA)
  • Norveç PEN
  • Özgürlük Evi (FH)
  • Osservatorio Balcani Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT)
  • Sınır Tanımayan Gazeteciler (RSF)
  • Uluslararası Gazeteciler Federasyonu (IFJ)
  • Uluslararası Karikatürist Hakları Ağı (CRNI)
  • Uluslararası PEN
  • Uluslararası İfade Hürriyeti (IFEX)
  • Yabancı Medya Derneği (FMA)

This statement was coordinated by the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), a Europe-wide mechanism which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States, Candidate Countries and Ukraine.

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The statue outside the headquarters of Slovenian public broadcaster Radiotelevizija Slovenija (RTV) in the capital Ljubljana Library

Slovenia: Government faces hurdles in effort to ‘depoliticise’ public…

Slovenia: Government faces hurdles in effort to ‘depoliticise’ public broadcaster

By IPI contributor Katja Lihtenvalner

Since coming to power in April 2022, Slovenia’s new centre-left government led by Prime Minister Robert Golob has pressed ahead with a campaign pledge to reform the country’s outdated media law and strengthen the independence of Radio-Television Slovenia (RTV).

The centrepiece of this reform is a legislative effort to depoliticize the management of the public broadcaster through a restructuring of its two main oversight bodies, the programme and supervisory boards.


However, challenges started immediately after the government brought forward a draft version of the amendment to the RTV law in July. At the same time, new management within the broadcaster is leading to continued accusations of pressure on journalists and editorial freedom.


Depoliticization of public broadcaster

Back in July, the country’s 90-seat National Assembly approved the government’s draft amendment to the RTV Act, with 50 MPs voting in favour.


“Today’s debate shows that a new broadcasting law is urgently needed. The public reckoning with employees, the trade unionist – all this shows the mismanagement of public service broadcasting”, newly appointed Minister for Culture Asta Vrecko said in the parliament at the time.


The amendment to the RTV Act proposes changes to the management, administration and supervision of the RTV Slovenia. Instead of the existing programme and supervisory boards – which have for years been seen as a tool for a new government to stamp its influence on the broadcaster through politicised appointments – the revised law would introduce a single management and supervisory body, the RTV Council. This body would consist of 17 members, with civil society and RTV employees playing a decisive role.


“The aim is to remove politics from public service broadcasting and ensure its institutional and programme autonomy”, an official government statement said. Vrecko added: “I don’t care who started this politicization. What is important to me is that we put an end to it.”


However, this reform process is facing a major challenge from the largest opposition party, the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS), which has criticized the initiative as a politically motivated and unlawful attempt to remove RTVS’s director general, who was appointed during its government.


“We are witnessing a beheading of RTV that has never been seen before in the history of the country”, SDS said after the adoption of the amendment.


When in government, members of the SDS including then Prime Minister Janez Janša were accused of undermining the integrity of the public broadcaster, appointing politicized figures to RTVS’ oversight boards and engaging in several smears against some of its management and journalists.


Referendum challenge

In an effort to block the amendments, on September 9 SDS started a campaign to collect the 40,000 signatures needed to call for a legislative referendum on the proposed reforms.


“The amendment recklessly introduces a new management and supervisory body which, under the guise of depoliticization, abolishes the programme and supervisory boards, which guarantee impartiality and balance”, SDS said during the signature campaign, which it titled “against the politicization of RTV”. SDS did not respond to questions for this article about its criticism of the amendment.


Back in July, Prime Minister Golob commented on the opposition’s referendum initiative: “This is a misuse of the referendum law in order to stop the executive or the legislature.”


The second largest opposition party, Nova Slovenija (the Christian Democrats), also opposed the amendment to the Broadcasting Act.


“In principle, we support greater involvement of civil society in the RTV Council, but the amendment effectively excludes part of civil society. In fact, only certain civil society organizations could appoint representatives, which in our view do not represent a broad range of viewers and listeners with different views and beliefs”, the party said in a written response for this article.


However, Nova Slovenija said it will not actively join SDS in collecting signatures for the referendum.


SDS now has until October 5 to collect the necessary signatures of support. After that, the initiator of the referendum has seven days to submit a request. If this is complete, the National Assembly then has seven days to call the referendum by decree.


RTV under pressure

While the political confrontation continues, internally RTVS remains mired in disputes between journalists and its new management.


The situation has deteriorated since April last year, when 37-year-old lawyer Andrej Grah Whatmough took over the leadership of RTVS. Internal disputes escalated further in June when Uroš  Urbanija, a previous editor at the Slovenian Press Agency and former head of the Government Communication Office (UKOM) under the government of previous Prime Minister Janez Jansa, was appointed as a director of public TV.


Both are seen as having political ties to Janša. While Urbanija headed UKOM, the body suspended financing for the Slovenian Press Agency (STA) over a legal dispute, driving it to the point of bankruptcy and leading to strong criticism from EU leaders.


“Urbanija, the former head of the government’s Communications Office, is highly political and biased, and his media history leaves traces of unprofessionalism, bullying, conflicts with journalists’ collectives and personal vendettas”; the journalist’s union said when it urged Whatmough not to appoint Urbanija.


IPI asked Urbanija for his response to these accusations. Urbanija agreed to comment on the allegations only in a separate interview in which he is the only person interviewed.


Claims of harassment and pressure have been made by several journalists in recent months.


“What is happening now has crossed all borders of the limits of decency, professionalism and common sense”, one of Slovenia’s most influential television commentators, Igor Bergant, recently said about the developments at RTV.


Another TV presenter, Saša Kranjc, said: “It happens that we have to publish stories that we don’t know, that an editor asks for a statement to be retracted from a story and that we are forbidden to publish a piece of news.”


As a gesture of support, journalists have now gathered twice during the news programme to point out the problems to the audience. They also wanted to show the support for colleagues who were threatened by Urbanija with “disciplinary action” among them above mentioned Kranjc and editor, Vesna Pfeiffer.


“The new management is cancelling programmes, cutting the news bulletin and violating the programme and production plan, which is already seriously undermining public information about what is happening at home and around the world, and thus the public’s right to be informed”, the staff of TV Slovenia’s news programme said in a press release.


Journalists and media workers have also staged several strikes organized by the unions. Various open letters have been published and sent to the Prime Minister Golob by the director of RTV and the director of TV.


“We are witnessing a kind of staging of an epic confrontation: the management, the supervisory and programming board, on a political mission to destroy the house, confronting the journalistic collective”, media analyst Boris Vezjak explained. “In between, there are the extras, the majority of them, who look the other way and do not get involved.”

This article is part of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), a Europe-wide mechanism which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States, Candidate Countries and Ukraine.

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Albania: Media must not face criminal prosecution for public…

Albania: Media must not face criminal prosecution for public interest reporting

The undersigned media freedom and journalist associations today express our shared concern over the blanket publication ban issued by Albanian prosecutorial authorities regarding a trove of hacked data, and stress that no journalist or media outlet should face criminal sanctions for publishing information in the public interest.

While our organisations recognise the sensitive nature of these leaks and urge all media in Albania to handle the material in a strictly ethical and responsible manner, it is vital that Albanian authorities proceed with caution and full consideration for journalistic freedoms protected under both domestic and international law.


On 19 September 2022, the Prosecutor’s Office of Tirana issued an “order” which banned all media in Albania from publishing data or information from a cache of files which had been hacked from Albanian servers and computer systems and then leaked online. The high-profile leaks followed a wave of damaging cyber-attacks on Albanian servers and computer systems in recent months by state-backed hackers in Iran, which has caused a diplomatic crisis and the severing of ties between the two countries.


The bulk of the hacked material contains classified police information and sensitive email correspondence, documents and memos between Albanian politicians, authorities and foreign ambassadors, including documents about suspected plans to assassinate foreign and domestic political figures, according to reports.


In response to the latest leaks, the Prosecutor’s Office of Tirana issued the order and warned that media that violate the ban would face criminal investigation under articles 103, 208 and 304 of the penal code. This included publication in audio-visual, print and online media, as well as social media. News websites that published data would subsequently be blocked.The information was first shared via a post on the Facebook account of the Albanian Police.


Our organisations recognise the severity of these cyber-attacks and the sensitive nature of the leaked data. In such circumstances, the media have a professional responsibility to handle and present this kind of material in an ethical manner, with full consideration given to citizens’ right to privacy and serious national security concerns.


However, regardless of the source of the material or the intent of those behind the attacks, journalists have a responsibility to assess the veracity and public interest nature of the leaked information, as well as the right of citizens to be informed about newsworthy matters.


The response by the Tirana Prosecutor’s Office to try and unilaterally limit all reporting on the leaked information, without proper consideration given to the public interest, therefore raises serious concerns about unjustified infringements on the freedom of the press, which is already under the spotlight in Albania.


Threats of criminal investigations and website blocking for media or journalists that violate the banning order will meanwhile have a censorious effect on reporting and could open the door to the criminalisation of legitimate journalistic activity. No journalist, editor or publisher in Albania should face prosecution for publishing accurate information on a matter of public interest.


Moreover, the role of the Audiovisual Media Authority (AMA) and the Electronic and Postal Communications Authority (AKEP) – two independent bodies – in monitoring the media ecosystem for potential violations on behalf of the Prosecutor’s Office also raises clear concerns.


Moving forward, our organisations urge investigatory and government authorities in Albania to avoid taking any further steps which undermine the exercise of responsible journalism or endanger the liberty of journalists publishing public interest material. We will continue to closely monitor the situation in the coming days and respond to further developments.

Signed by:

  • ARTICLE 19 Europe
  • Balkan Free Media Initiative
  • European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
  • European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)
  • Free Press Unlimited (FPU)
  • International Press Institute (IPI)
  • Safe Journalists Network
  • Osservatorio Balcani Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT)

This statement was coordinated by the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), a Europe-wide mechanism which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States, Candidate Countries and Ukraine.

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picture alliance / NurPhoto | Manuel Dorati Library

Call for Italian political forces to take a stand…

Call for Italian political forces to take a stand against SLAPPs

A group of media freedom and journalists’ organisations have published a statement outlining a list of measures that must be adopted in order to protect victims of Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs) in Italy.

The right of citizens to be informed about matters of public interest and of journalists to write freely about them cannot and must not be hindered by SLAPPs. Civil society’s appeal to the future parliament to promote measures to contrast strategic lawsuits


SLAPPs (Strategic lawsuits against public participation) aim at silencing journalists, activists, whistleblowers, and anyone who sheds light on matters of public interest. SLAPPs are a true violation of the right of citizens to be informed and freedom of expression. SLAPPs also pose serious restrictions on democratic participation as they deprive the public debate of voices reporting on issues of public interest. The explicit goal of those who carry out legal actions against journalists and activists dealing with e.g. corruption, abuse of power, and environmental issues is to silence them – a threat to freedom of expression and the right to report.


The use of SLAPPs is widespread in Italy. The legal tool most commonly employed to instigate SLAPP cases is defamation, both civil and criminal. However, the right to privacy and the right to be forgotten are also misused to prevent the disclosure of inconvenient information. Often, legal threats even precede the publication of the investigation, triggering mechanisms of self-censorship.


The Italian Parliament has already been urged to abide by the recent Constitutional Court rulings on the issue of defamation. The Court, in fact, intervened with a decision in 2020 and a ruling in 2021 on the issue of the constitutionality of prison sentences for journalists in cases of press defamation, calling on the Parliament to remove the rules that provide for incarceration – except for cases of ‘exceptional gravity’ – and to promote a wide-ranging reform of the relevant legislation. Such a reform, which has remained stagnant and obstructed in previous legislatures, is necessary in order to hopefully reach an “effective balance between freedom of expression and the protection of reputation”, as the Court emphasised in 2021.


At the European level, last April the European Commission presented its response to the problem by drafting a two-pronged document: a directive on transnational cases, which will now have to follow its approval process between the EU Council and the European Parliament, and a recommendation with immediate but non-binding effect, which gathers precise indications to be applied in national cases. This was possible also thanks to an intense mobilisation of the Coalition against SLAPP in Europe (CASE), which gathers more than 40 European civil society organisations committed to combating SLAPPs.


European Commission Vice-President Vera Jourova calls the directive under discussion “Daphne’s law”, to remember Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, killed in 2017 while being targeted with several legal proceedings, and whose tragic story helped to raise attention to the issue. The presentation of the proposal at European level was celebrated as a moment of historic significance, an achievement unthinkable until a few years ago.


This heritage must not be lost.


The European initiative should propel the urgent adoption of measures to protect SLAPP victims in Italy as well. Now it is up to the next Italian Parliament and Government to do their part. In view of the vote on 25 September, the signatories of this appeal ask all the candidates in the forthcoming elections and the political forces for a public commitment to support during the next legislature, in the European and national fora, the adoption of measures, within and beyond the legislative realm, to counter SLAPP.


Specifically, we call for:


  • the introduction of the issue of SLAPP as a priority on the Italian political agenda;
  • the launch of a comprehensive legal reform on defamation, both criminal and civil, in line with recent Constitutional Court rulings and the standards of international law on freedom of expression;
  • the introduction of a procedure for the timely dismissal of legal actions classifiable as SLAPP;
  •  the establishment of punitive and deterrent sanctions for SLAPP perpetrators;
  • the systematic and independent data collection and monitoring of intimidating legal acts by institutions in cooperation with civil society;
  • the continuation of the parliamentary intergroup dealing with information, media, and journalism and the effective engagement of its members in combating SLAPPs;
  • the implementation without delay of the guidelines contained in the European Recommendation for national cases;
  • the support, in the European fora, of the proposed anti-SLAPP Directive presented by the European Commission on 27 April 2022.


Thanks to an active network throughout Europe, civil society has made a fundamental contribution in formulating responses to prevent reckless lawsuits from restricting free expression, participation, and democracy. We will continue to advocate for the proposed measures to be adopted.


The appeal is open to all organisations and individuals who share these demands. List constantly being updated here.

Signed by:

  • Osservatorio Balcani Caucaso Transeuropa


  • Articolo 21

  • Transparency International Italia

  • Article 19 Europe

  • Environmental Paper Network

  • Greenpeace Italia

  • European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)

  • European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)

  • International Press Institute (IPI)

  • Festival dei Diritti Umani

  • Associazione Italiana Medici per l’Ambiente (ISDE)

  • info.nodes

  • Lega Italiana Antivivisezione (LAV)

  • Parliament Watch Italia

This statement was coordinated by the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), a Europe-wide mechanism which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States, Candidate Countries and Ukraine.

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Joint Statement on the Proposal for the European Media…

Joint Statement on the Proposal for the European Media Freedom Act

The undersigned journalists’, media freedom, and human rights organisations welcome the European Commission’s initiative to strengthen the free and pluralistic media system and the commitment to protect journalists and editorial independence within the European Union.

These values directly link to fundamental rights, such as freedom of expression, the right to access to information, the formation of opinion, and making informed choices in elections, as enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights.


Matters relating to the media have traditionally been the competence of member states, however such is the threat posed to media freedom that an EU wide action has become necessary to protect Europe’s democratic values.


Therefore we support the European Media Freedom Act (EMFA) which breaks significant new ground in our efforts to protect media freedom in Europe. The EMFA has identified many of the key issues where the EU and member states must urgently act in order to protect media freedoms. This statement of intent, alone, is very welcome.


However, if the EMFA is to become effective in the struggle to guarantee media pluralism, to protect journalists’ rights and ensure editorial independence from the impact of vested commercial and political interests, it should strengthen efforts to increase the transparency in media ownership; introduce rules governing all financial relations between the state and media (in addition to advertising); guarantee the independence of national regulators as well as the independence of the European Board for Media Services; and fully protect journalists from all forms of surveillance (in addition to spyware).


The undersigned organisations look forward to continuing to engage with the institutions of the European Union to ensure that the text of the European Media Freedom Act is as robust and effective as possible and helps provide a foundation for generations of journalists to come.

Signed by:

  • Association of European Journalists (AEJ) 
  • Civil Liberties Union for Europe (Liberties) 
  • Coalition for Creativity (C4C) 
  • Committee to Protect Journalists 
  • European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) 
  • European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) 
  • Free Press Unlimited (FPU) 
  • Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD) 
  • Index on Censorship 
  • International Press Institute (IPI) 
  • Media Diversity Institute, Belgium (MDI) 
  • OBC Transeuropa (OBCT) 
  • Ossigeno.info 
  • Reporters WIthout Borders (RSF) 
  • Society of Journalists, Warsaw 
  • South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) 
  • The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation 
  • Transparency International EU 
  • World Association Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC Europe)
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MFRR Monitoring Report: 311 European media freedom violations recorded…

MFRR Monitoring Report: 311 European media freedom violations recorded in first half of 2022

The Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) has published the latest edition of the MFRR Monitoring Report, outlining the state of media freedom throughout all European Union Member States and candidate countries from January to June 2022.

The Monitoring Report includes an analysis of the data compiled for Mapping Media Freedom, which collects and visualises all press freedom violations in the European Union and candidate countries. Although Moldova and Ukraine received candidate country status on 23 June 2022, alerts from these countries are not included in the 6 month analysis. However, given the severe impact Russia’s invasion has had on journalist safety and media freedom, the report includes a dedicated chapter focusing on Ukraine.


Read below for an overview of the report’s general findings. Specific thematic and country analyses can be accessed in the full report using the button below.

In the first six months of the year, 311 media freedom violations were recorded in 29 countries. These involve 552 persons or entities related to media, including journalists, media companies, family members, journalists’ sources, and NGOs fighting for press freedom.

Verbal attacks, including harassment and threats, were the most common types of violations, making up 39.2% of the total number of attacks. This was followed by legal incidents (30.9%) and physical attacks (19.3%). Attacks to property made up 14.2% of alerts and 12.9% of alerts were linked to censorship, such as blocked access to information.


Among these attacks was the murder of Güngör Arslan, Managing Editor of the Turkish newspaper Ses Kocaeli.

As for perpetrators, private individuals remained the main source of attacks to journalists and media workers (36.3%), followed by police and state security (17.7%) and government and public officials (11.6%).

In terms of contexts in which violations took places, online and digital attacks increased significantly and became the most frequent context (22.8%) closely followed by attacks during protests (22.2%), violations in courts (15.1%), and in public places or on the street (11.3%).

Contexts Monitoring Report

After providing a general overview of the alerts, the report continues with thematic analyses focusing on the war in Ukraine, compliance with some topics raised in the European Commission Recommendation on the protection, safety, and empowerment of journalists, and the surveillance of journalists and media workers. These analyses are followed by country reports summarising the state of media freedom in Turkey, Greece, Spain, Poland, Malta, France, Germany, Serbia, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

This statement was coordinated by the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), a Europe-wide mechanism which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States, Candidate Countries and Ukraine.

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Albania: Press freedom groups call for a fair trial…

Albania: Press freedom groups call for a fair trial in defamation lawsuit by former top prosecutor against Isa Myzyraj

The undersigned media freedom and freedom of expression organisations and journalist unions and associations are highly concerned by the defamation lawsuit filed against journalist Isa Myzyraj, who works for Ora News, by Elizabeta Imeraj.

Formerly Tirana’s top prosecutor, Imeraj was fired in April 2022 as part of the justice reform process for causing a loss of trust in the justice system and inability to justify or explain her assets. Following yesterday’s postponement of the case and ahead of the hearing now scheduled for 16 October, we call for a fair trial with full respect for all due process rights and in which the importance of free speech, press and public interest reporting is appropriately considered.


Imeraj is suing Myzyraj after he reported threats and intimidation he received for writing about Imeraj’s vetting process to international networks. In late March and early April 2022, Myzyraj commented on the developments around Imeraj’s vetting process carried out by the constitutionally-mandated International Monitoring Operation (IMO). The journalist had noticed that colleagues from other media outlets began self-censoring, while many mainstream media did not report the developments. At the same time, anonymously owned media outlets in Albania began publishing defamatory pieces attacking members of the IMO in what the EU’s Directorate-General for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement characterised as an “orchestrated smear campaign”. Myzyraj said his investigations found that at least three of these online outlets had links to Imeraj and published these allegations on Facebook and Twitter. Imeraj contests this statement and filed a lawsuit before the Elbasan District Court.


The defamation case is set against serious concerns about media freedom and threats to independent watchdog journalism in Albania, which plummeted to 103rd rank in RSF’s 2022 World Press Freedom Index, last in the Balkans.


We will continue to monitor the case closely and stand in solidarity with Myzyraj.

Signed by:

  • ARTICLE 19 Europe
  • European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
  • European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)
  • Free Press Unlimited (FPU)
  • International Press Institute (IPI)
  • OBC Transeuropa (OBCT)
  • Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
  • SafeJournalists Network

This statement was coordinated by the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), a Europe-wide mechanism which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States, Candidate Countries and Ukraine.

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