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The MFRR and partners call on UK authorities to…

The MFRR and partners call on UK authorities to intervene on behalf of whistleblower Jonathan Taylor

The MFRR and whistleblowing, human rights and transparency organisations have sent a letter to the UK Government calling on them to intervene to ensure whistleblower, Jonathan Taylor can return home

The letter to the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs and First Secretary of State, Rt Hon Dominic Raab MP was signed by 17 organisations. It outlines a number of concerns that without intervention by the government of the United Kingdom, whistleblower and British citizen Jonathan Taylor may be stuck in Croatia fighting extradition to Monaco for many more months.

On 31 July 2020, Taylor, a whistleblower who disclosed bribery and corrupt practices in the oil and gas industry, was arrested upon his arrival in Croatia for a holiday pursuant to an Interpol Red Notice issued on request of Monaco. On 1 September, a court in Dubrovnik ordered his extradition. However, on 12 October the Supreme Court partially sustained an appeal by Taylor, ruling that, as the extradition concerned a UK national, that country should be afforded the right to request Taylor’s surrender under the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) scheme. If the UK does not seek his surrender, the Supreme Court said, the lower court should rule on the request for extradition by Monaco. On 20 October, the court in Dubrovnik wrote to the UK authorities requesting a statement as to whether it seeks Taylor’s surrender under the EAW, which would be absurd given he is not under investigation in the UK.

Photo of Warsaw protest credit: Jedrzej Nowicki Library

Poland: MFRR condemns police violence against journalists amidst Warsaw…

Poland: MFRR condemns police violence against journalists amidst Warsaw clashes

IPI, as part of the MFRR, condemns the violence against journalists and media workers by police officers during protests in Warsaw

The International Press Institute (IPI) strongly condemned police violence against photojournalists reporting on clashes in the Polish capital Warsaw. The violence led to numerous injuries and the hospitalization of a 74-year-old photographer who was shot in the face with a rubber bullet.

In each of the attacks the journalists in question had either been wearing “PRESS” signs or were otherwise clearly identifiable as members of the media. The incidents happened on November 11, 2020 as media covered violent clashes between police and members of far-right and nationalist groups during the annual Independence Day march through the capital.

Photo credit: Jedrzej Nowicki 

screenshot of proposed amendment Library

France: concerns about new draft law that would make…

France: new draft law would make it illegal to publish images of police and gendarmes at work

ECPMF and EFJ, as part of the MFRR, with French unions SNJ, SNJ-CGT, CFDT-Journalistes, are concerned about a legislative proposal pending in the French parliament, which would make it illegal to disseminate images of law enforcement officers of the national police and gendarmerie.

Legislative proposal No. 3452 on global security was introduced by Members of Parliament of the presidential majority on 20 October 2020. The text proposes a host of legislative changes that purport to address the “new challenges for French security” and strengthen law enforcement to this end. In article 24, the legislative proposal advances the amendment of the 1881 law on press freedom, to add a provision (new Art. 35 quinquies) that would make it punishable by one year of imprisonment and a fine of 45 000 euro to disseminate, with the intent of causing psychological or physical harm, an image of the face or any other element that could identify a law enforcement officer in the course of exercising his or her duty.

ECPMF, EFJ and the unions who joined this statement call  on the members of Parliament to delete the proposed text.

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Greek police urged to explain detention of German documentary…

Greek police urged to explain detention of German documentary crew

The Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) sent a letter to Greek authorities seeking an urgent explanation for the recent detention of a German documentary on the island of Samos

The letter, addressed to local and national police chiefs and the Greek Minister of Interior, expressed serious concern over the mistreatment of a German journalistic crew by the Samos Police Department. On 19 October, a German media crew making a film about climate-induced migration on the Greek island of Samos were detained for seven hours, strip searched and held in jail without charges and repeatedly denied access to a lawyer.

While they were eventually allowed to leave Greece, uncertainty remains regarding possible “espionage” charges being brought against them as a result of their journalism. The letter sent on 11 November demands clarification and condemns these acts, which run counter to Greece’s commitments to media freedom

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Italian journalists covering anti-lockdown protests face increasing violence

Italian journalists covering anti-lockdown protests face increasing violence

MFRR partners condemn violence after series of physical attacks and threats against journalists and media workers covering protests against the Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic in different locations across Italy

The Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) expresses our serious concern over the string of physical attacks, death threats and acts of intimidation against journalists and media workers covering issues related to COVID-19 and recent anti-lockdown protests across Italy.

Over the last three weeks, MFRR partners have documented at least nine incidents involving 14 members of the Italian media in six different cities, including one photojournalist being hospitalised with a head trauma following an attack.

The majority of recorded incidents have involved reporters and TV crews being harassed by protesters taking part in demonstrations against the government’s COVID-19 measures, many of which were organised and attended by far-right groups.

Querdenken protest in Leipzig Library

Police and protesters target journalists and media workers in…

Police and protesters target journalists and media workers in Leipzig protest

MFRR partners EFJ and ECPMF condemn the attempts to prevent journalists and media workers from carrying out their work at a recent protest in Leipzig against the Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

At least, 43 journalists were prevented from carrying out their work by protesters and police officers at the “Querdenken” demonstration in the eastern German city of Leipzig on Saturday, 7 November. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) strongly condemn the violence and call again on the German police to do its utmost to protect journalists covering demonstrations.

The demonstration was attended by around 20,000 protesters according to German media – including people criticising the Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as people from far-right parties including extremist National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD). Many were not wearing face masks and flaunted social distancing rules. As the protest was stopped by the police due to the unexpected number of participants, a number of protesters clashed with police, which also involved targeting journalists on assignment.

Polish Protest - Photo Credit: Konrad Lembcke Library

As violence escalates in Poland, journalists come under attack

As violence escalates in Poland, journalists come under attack

Journalists and media workers at risk as media caught in the middle of polarized protests following court ruling on abortion

IPI as part of the MFRR condemns recent aggression and violence against journalists covering ongoing protests in Poland and called for both police and demonstrators to ensure the safety of the media covering rallies. Over three nights, incidents of aggression towards journalists have been reported by various media outlets as Poland reels from large scale protests sparked by a controversial ruling by the Polish Constitutional Tribunal restricting abortions.

Attacks on media were documented in Poznań, Wrocław and Warsaw, where a nine-day long nationwide Women’s Strike has grown into wider anti-government demonstrations and been met with increasingly violent counter protests.

At least three journalists have suffered injuries, including one from leading daily Gazeta Wyborcza who was taken to hospital after being assaulted by masked men.

Slovenia Flag - credit: Balkan Photos Library

Photojournalist Borut Živulovič hospitalised covering violent protests in Slovenia

Photojournalist Borut Živulovič hospitalised covering violent protests in Slovenia

As part of the MFRR, IPI condemn acts of violence towards journalists and media workers covering protests in the Slovenian capital Ljubljana and call for thorough police investigations to identify those responsible.

On 5 November 2020, photojournalist Borut Živulovič, who works as a photographer for the agency Bobo and a freelancer for Reuters, was hospitalized after suffering a blow to the head while covering violent clashes with riot police in and around Republic Square.

This was not an isolated case. Several other media outlets reported that their news crews had been aggressively pushed and faced obstruction, threats and intimidation as they reported on the protests. Photojournalist Voranc Vogel was also struck in the shoulder by an object thrown at police but was not injured, according to reports.

The aggression towards journalists came amidst wider clashes as protesters threw flares, stones and concrete blocks at riot police, in a demonstration reportedly organised by Anonymous Slovenija and attended by around 500 people from anti-government, anti-lockdown and conspiracy theory groups

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Malta: MFRR partners and freedom of expression organisations concerned…

Malta: MFRR partners and freedom of expression organisations concerned about attempt to bribe a journalist

MFRR partners and journalists organisations condemn the alleged attempts to bribe a Times of Malta journalist

Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) partners and freedom of expression organisations are concerned about the alleged attempt to bribe a journalist by a member of Yorgen Fenech’s legal team. We call on the Maltese authorities and Chamber of Advocates to ensure the matter is thoroughly and impartially investigated.

On Monday 2 November 2020, lawyer Gianluca Caruana Curran, in the presence of lawyer Charles Mercieca, allegedly attempted to hand over a wad of cash to Times of Malta journalist Ivan Martin at the end of a twenty-minute meeting. Caruana Curran is a member of the legal team defending businessman Yorgen Fenech, who is charged with complicity in the assassination of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

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Albania: ECPMF condemns bomb attack and calls for effective…

MFRR condemns bomb attack against journalist in Albania and calls for effective investigation

The European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), part of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) condemns the bomb attack on the home of Albanian journalist Elidon Ndreka early in the morning of 30th October.

On 30 October around 1 AM, explosives detonated at the entrance of Elidon Ndreka’s home, which he shares with his wife, children and his parents. The explosion caused only material damage but left the journalist and his family shocked.

We call on the authorities of Albania to ensure that this attack is investigated and prosecuted leading to the perpetrator(s) behind this attack being held to account, with the thoroughness and urgency the situation demands. In this regard, we recall that attacks on journalists and media workers affect not only the victims themselves but also the public’s right to information and the willingness of other journalists to continue their important work.