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MFRR calls for a robust and transparent investigation into…

MFRR calls for a robust and transparent investigation into threats made against Nello Scavo

Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) partners and freedom of expression organisations call on the Maltese and Italian governments to ensure a robust, thorough and transparent investigation into Neville Gafà for threats made against journalist, Nello Scavo

On 27 June 2020, Neville Gafà, a former person of trust in the Office of the Maltese Prime Minister, issued a threat against Italian journalist, Nello Scavo of the national newspaper, Avvenire. In response to a tweet posted by AlarmPhone, an independent support organisation for people crossing the Mediterranean, Gafà called on the organisation to “stop your dirty business”. When Scavo responded questioning the former official’s record, Gafà called for him to “stop your dirty business. If not, we will be stopping you.” 

On 7th August, MFRR partners and free expression organisations sent a letter to Maltese and Italian authorities calling for robust, thorough and transparent investigation into Neville Gafà.

On 19th August, Neville Gafà confirmed he was being investigated: “I am being investigated by Malta’s police after a complaint was filed against me by a foreign journalist. A magisterial inquiry has been requested by the foreign ministry – the Maltese ministry, not a foreign one. No such complaints will stop me from fighting or broadcast what is happening in the Mediterranean. I haven’t even started. There are no compromises on Malta.”

However, we have not received a response from either Maltese or Italian authorities.

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We call for whistleblower Jonathan Taylor to be protected

We call for the arrest warrant against whistleblower, Jonathan Taylor to be dropped

Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) partners, media protection, human rights, transparency and whistleblowing support organisations, alongside international jurists call on Monaco to immediately withdraw the arrest warrant that led to SBM Offshore whistleblower Jonathan Taylor being arrested in Dubrovnik airport.

We call on the Monaco authorities to immediately withdraw all charges against Jonathan Taylor and allow him to return home without further delay. On 31 July 2020, he  was arrested and detained at Dubrovnik Airport in Croatia as he arrived for a short holiday with his wife and three children on charges of “bribery and corruption” originally lodged by the public prosecutor in Monaco. In 2014, Mr Taylor blew the whistle on a $275 million international network of bribes paid by his former employer, oil platform company SBM Offshore. Due to evidence he provided to the UK Serious Fraud Office, investigators in Brazil and the Netherlands as well as the FBI and the Department of Justice in the United States, SBM Offshore was fined over $800 million. A judge in Dubrovnik released Jonathan on bail on 3rd August 2020, but he has to remain in Croatia, with the threat of pending legal action hanging over his head. 

A number of MFRR partners are joined by leading experts from across the globe calling for the arrest warrants to be dropped enabling Mr Taylor to travel freely.

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Slovenia’s government targets public media in midst of pandemic

Slovenia’s government targets public media in midst of pandemic

Part of IPI’s series, Europe media freedom in the shadow of Covidauthored by IPI correspondents across Europe

IPI Correspondent,  Aljaž Pengov Bitenc outlines how a new bill in Slovenia paves the way for massive funding cuts that would jeopardize public service mission

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With Index gone, the future looks even bleaker for…

With Index gone, the future looks even bleaker for Hungarian media

Part of IPI’s series, Europe media freedom in the shadow of Covid, authored by IPI correspondents across Europe

The COVID-19 pandemic adds to squeeze as Orbán regime continues to target independent press. IPI correspondent in Budapest, Marton Bede analyses the impact of the threats facing Index and what that means for media freedom in Hungary

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MFRR renews call for justice in Kuciak murder ahead…

MFRR renews call for justice in Kuciak murder ahead of verdict

Ahead of the announcement of the verdict into the murder of Slovak journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée, Martina Kušnírová next week, IPI, who have been observing the court hearing, outlines the importance of this case for media freedom in Slovakia and Europe.

The Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) renewed its call for justice for Slovak journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée, Martina Kušnírová, as a court in Pezinok prepares to issue a verdict in the trial of their suspected killers on Wednesday 5th August.

Kuciak, whose work for the online news site Aktuality.sk uncovered allegations of tax fraud and financial crime implicating prominent business and political leaders in Slovakia, and Kušnírová were killed in their home on 21 February 2018. The double murder sparked the largest protests in Slovakia since the Velvet Revolution, and led to the resignations of the Prime Minister Róbert Fico, Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák, Culture Minister Marek Maďarič, and Chief of Police Tibor Gašpar.

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Mapping Media Freedom: A Four-Month Snapshot

Mapping Media Freedom: A Four-Month Snapshot

EFJ and IPI, supported by ECPMF, have compiled a report analysing the first 4-months of the MFRR, charting a worrying decline in media freedom in EU Member States and Candidate Countries

The monitoring report compiled by European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and International Press Institute (IPI), with support from ECPMF, gives unprecedented insight into the threats to media freedom in EU member states and Candidate Countries. Within the monitored period from March to June a total of 126 alerts were registered on the Mapping Media Freedom platform from two-thirds of the countries covered by the MFRR.

Key trends including the COVID-19 Pandemic (and governments’ responses to this crisis) and the dangers from demonstrators and police officers for journalists and media workers covering protesters and demonstrations.

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Serbia: financial probe into the work of journalists, media…

Serbia: financial probe into the work of journalists, media and civil society raises concern

Given recent attacks on journalists and media freedom in Serbia, we are concerned that a financial investigation targeting a number of media organisations and associations could be an abuse of legal mechanism in order to exert pressure on the critical voices in Serbia.

ARTICLE 19 and European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), as part of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), are concerned by a financial investigation launched by the Serbian authorities into journalists, media and civil society organisations. The Serbian Finance Ministry’s Money Laundering Prevention Department has drawn up a list of media, journalists and NGOs whose bank records it wants to check. The information about this list was published in the Serbian media on 27 July.

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MFRR partners are profoundly concerned about media freedom attacks…

MFRR partners are profoundly concerned about media freedom attacks in Hungary, following EU Summit

Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) partners are profoundly concerned about the latest media freedom attacks in Hungary, which take place only days after the EU Summit, where Prime Minister Viktor Orbán praised the rule of law situation in his country.

On 22 July 2020, László Bodolai, the head of Magyar Fejlődésért Alapítvány (Foundation for Hungarian Progress, owner of Index Zrt.), fired the Index.hu editor-In-Chief, Szabolcs Dull. After a letter to the owners signed by the outlet’s journalistic team was refused calling for Dull to be reinstated, the editorial board, made up of Attila Tóth-Szenesi, Veronika Munk, and János Haász, alongside 70 journalists tendered their resignation from Index.  

This is the latest attack on media freedom in Hungary and represents a further reduction of the space within which free and independent media outlets can operate.

Update: On 18 September Vera Jourova, Vice-President of the European Commission responded to this letter on behalf of the President Ursula von der Leyen

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Spain: Journalists operate in increasingly suffocating atmosphere

Journalists operate in increasingly suffocating atmosphere in Spain

Polarization and attempts by far-right party to smear fact-checkers and journalists undermine media freedom across the country.

Amidst the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Spain’s far-right party, Vox  introduced a bill to Parliament which aims to regulate fact-checking news outlets in Spain. The text, published on July 17, explicitly forbids the verification of any statement on “social media, blogs, generic websites, print, online outlets and broadcasters“ unless the media organization publicly states its affiliation, if any, to a political party, government or ideology.

The bill also prohibits the fact-checking of “opinions” and includes a provision by which fact-checkers can be held legally liable for labelling them as ‘fake news’. Here MFRR partner, International Press Institute explores what this means for media freedom across the country

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Serbia: MFRR calls for all journalists and media workers…

Serbia: MFRR calls for all journalists and media workers to be protected

Between 7th and 11th July, 28 journalists and media workers have been attacked by demonstrators and police officers during demonstrations across Serbia

MFRR partners and leading free expression, journalist and media freedom organisations have come together to call for all attacks and threats to journalists to be investigated fully to ensure that perpetrators of violence, including police officers and other state entities, are held to account.

This open letter has been sent to the Minister of Interior of the Republic of Serbia, Dr Nebojša Stefanović