Poland: Reporting of presidential campaign highlights lack of independence…

Poland: Biased and imbalanced reporting of presidential campaign highlights lack of independence of the public broadcaster Telewizja Polska (TVP)

ARTICLE 19 is concerned by the conduct of the Polish state TV, Telewizja Polska S.A. (TVP), during the ongoing presidential campaign in Poland, which includes providing one-sided coverage of the political campaign and broadcasting footage.

The MFRR is also concerned by TVP’s role in amplifying the government’s discriminatory rhetoric against minority groups throughout the Presidential campaign. Government media have a duty to be balanced and impartial in their election reporting and not to discriminate against any political party or candidate in granting access to airtime. TVP should respect this in the second round of voting on 12 July 2020.

logo of Gazeta Wyborcza Library

Poland: MFRR supports Gazeta Wyborcza against 55 SLAPP Actions

MFRR supports Gazeta Wyborcza in Poland who has received over 55 threats of legal action

The Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) has responded to the unprecedented legal threats made against Polish newspaper, Gazeta Wyborcza by contributing €15,000, it’s largest grant to date, to support the outlet’s legal defence.

Since 2015, Gazeta Wyborcza has received over 55 legal threats, including civil defamation actions and alleged infringement of personal interests by a number of actors including Jarosław Kaczyński, the head of the governing Prawo i Sprawiedliwość (PiS) party; the state television broadcaster, Telewizja Polska SA and state owned company KGHM Polska Miedź SA.

We call on the pursuers to stop the legal threats, which fit the definition of Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs) and are aimed at stifling legitimate criticism and independent journalism.

As part of MFRR we have contributed €15,000 to support the outlet’s legal defence


Turkey: Alarming plans to further crackdown on social media

Turkey: Alarming plans to further crackdown on social media

Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) partners are alarmed by the Turkish President’s threats to further restrict or shut down social media. We call on Turkey to comply with its international obligations and refrain from measures that will further prevent and disrupt exercising the right to freedom of expression and information online.

On 1 July 2020, AKP Chair and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced that his party will draft a bill to either control or completely shut down social media in Turkey. The threat came after Erdoğan’s daughter and son-in-law received insulting messages on Twitter after announcing the birth of their new child, which resulted in a number of detentions.

The Turkish media landscape is already dominated by heavily pro-government outlets. More than one hundred media outlets have been shut down since the 2016 coup attempt. The remaining few independent media outlets are often threatened with closure, intimidation and fines. Hundreds of journalists are facing investigations and trials, while at least 93 journalists and media workers are still in prison mostly over terrorism-related charges or convictions. This has left social media as one of the few independent avenues available for free expression.


Fresh attacks worsen climate of hostility against journalists covering…

Fresh attacks worsen climate of hostility against journalists covering protests across Europe

Media Freedom Rapid Response partners renew call for increased protection of all journalists covering demonstrations

In the first 6 months of 2020, MFRR partners have documented over 31 separate cases of attacks and media freedom violations against at least 41 different journalists and media workers reporting from protests and demonstrations in 11 EU Member States and Candidate Countries.

In an update to the MFRR briefing published in May 2020, the International Press Institute highlights a number of threats to journalists and media workers across EU Member States and Candidate Countries, related to anti-lockdown, Black Lives Matter and far-right demonstrations.

photo of Jovo Martinovic Library

Montenegro: all charges must be dropped against investigative journalist…

Montenegro: All charges against investigative journalist Jovo Martinović must be dropped

Retrial of Jovo Martinović continues on 6 July – As part of the MFRR, ECPMF expresses renewed concern about situation of media freedom in Montenegro

A specialist in covering organised crime for leading international media, investigative journalist Jovo Martinović was convicted to an 18-month prison sentence by the High Court of Montenegro, on 15 January 2019 despite overwhelming evidence that his only links with organised crime were those of a reporter.

Throughout the detention and subsequent trial, his rights to a fair trial have been violated. Prior to his arrest on 22 October 2015, Martinović had already been held in custody for almost 15 months before being finally freed, provisionally. The retrial formally began on 2 Dec 2019, with a new hearing scheduled for Monday, 6 July 2020, 9 a.m. The retrial hearing takes place in the judges office and is open to public.

We think it is crucial to show public support and international solidarity for Jovo Martinović.

ECPMF, as part of the MFRR, calls on international and local bodies to attend the hearing on 6 July, and, even more importantly, the hearing of the closing statements.

ECPMF reiterates its call on Montenegrin authorities to acquit the investigative journalist and drop all charges against Martinović.

UPDATE 7 July 2020: as the fellow-defendant fell sick, the hearing was postponed to 15 September 2020.


Bulgarian media owner is threatened with prison term for…

Bulgarian media owner is threatened with prison term for expressing opinion

Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) partner, the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), is concerned about the ongoing legal harassment of Bulgarian media owner and businessman, Ivo Prokopiev and his media group Economedia, ahead of an expected court verdict on Sunday 28 June 2020.

Ivo Prokopiev, the owner of Economedia is currently on trial at the Specialized Criminal Court in Bulgaria in relation to the privatization of a minority stake in an energy company. He is accused of expressing his opinion in public and has been threatened with arrest by the lead case prosecutor.

Economedia publishes Capital weekly and, both considered as independent and professional journalistic outlets in a media environment dominated by state-affiliated outlets and media companies. Their published investigations over the past decade had uncovered increasing corruption in Bulgaria and concerted efforts to silence independent voices in media and politics.

The statement calls on the Court to make their judgment independent of any political pressure or interference and local authorities to stop the ongoing institutional and legal harassment of Ivo Prokopiev and Economedia.

photo of London Library

Briefing to the UK Government on good practice to…

Protecting Journalists and Media Workers: Good Practice

The MFRR outlines good practice from EU Member States and Candidate Countries to protect journalists and media workers that can inform the UK Government’s work to establish the National Committee for the Safety of Journalists

In 2019, the UK Government announced plans to form the National Committee and Action Plan for the Safety of Journalists to “ensure that those who threaten journalists are held to account.” This committee will be the responsibility of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Home Office.

To support and help shape the direction of this much needed initiative, the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) here outlines examples of good practice from The Netherlands, Sweden, South East Europe (Including Montenegro, Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania and North Macedonia), Serbia and Italy that can be incorporated into the committee’s approach to this complex topic to encourage greater collaboration and coordination to protect journalists and media workers across the UK. 


Slovak journalist continuing investigative work of Ján Kuciak receives…

Slovak journalist continuing investigative work of Ján Kuciak receives bullet in mailbox

The MFRR welcomes swift investigation announced by Slovak authorities

Police in Slovakia must thoroughly investigate a possible death threat issued against an investigative reporter at Slovak online news outlet, the International Press Institute (IPI) said today.

On the morning of Thursday, June 25, Aktuality investigative journalist Peter Sabo awoke to find a pistol bullet in the mailbox of the Bratislava apartment where he lives with his wife, according to the outlet’s editor and media reports.

Aktuality is the online newspaper that Slovak investigative reporter Ján Kuciak worked for before he was shot and killed alongside his fiancée, Martina Kušnírová, in 2018. The murder weapon was a pistol.


IPI condemns beating of journalist and threats of violence…

The MFRR condemns beating of journalist and threats of violence during Serbian election

MFRR partner, the International Press Institute (IPI) calls for a swift investigation into threats made against journalists and media workers during the Serbian election.

The International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists for press freedom, condemned the beating of journalist Sasa Mikic and threats of violence against reporters and media workers covering parliamentary elections in Serbia.


International organisations and journalist bodies express concern about legal…

Stop use of SLAPPs: International organisations and journalist bodies express concern about legal threats against EUobserver

MFRR partners, journalist bodies and free expression organisations stand in solidarity with EUobserver amid threats of legal action in Luxembourg and Belgium

Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) partners, journalist bodies, free expression and journalist support organisations are concerned about the legal threats made against EUobserver in Luxembourg and Belgium and call to stop the use of Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP) actions across Europe.

Left unreformed, such legal threats will be sufficient to silence media workers and outlets. We stand in solidarity with EUobserver and will continue to monitor developments around the case.