Greece: Decisive action needed to protect journalists and salvage…

Murdered, surveilled and sued: decisive action needed to protect journalists and salvage press freedom in Greece 

Greek journalism is under sustained threat from the impact of the surveillance scandal “Predatorgate”, the unresolved killing of a reporter, abusive legal action and  economic and political pressures. Following a mission to Athens, eight international organisations today call on the Government and Prime Minister to show political courage and urgently take specific measures aimed at improving the climate for independent journalism and salvaging press freedom.

Although Europe has been shaken by the revelations about the targeting of Greek media professionals with spyware and the 2021 killing of veteran crime reporter Giorgos Karaivaz, the domestic authorities – though verbally supportive of the European Union’s action in favour of press freedom – have done little to remedy the problems. Following the recent parliamentary elections and nomination of the new Government, our organisations conducted a joint mission to Athens to analyse the underlying reasons for the recent erosion of media freedom and examine the possible opportunities for improvement. Between 25 and 27 September 2023, they met a variety of media with the broadest possible range of editorial lines, officials of several state bodies, and civil society stakeholders. 


The delegation was composed of the six members of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR): ARTICLE 19 Europe, the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), Free Press Unlimited (FPU), the International Press Institute (IPI) and the Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT) – joined by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF).


The mission identifies four significant systemic challenges for press freedom in Greece, which when combined contribute to distrust between the journalists and the Government and a toxic and dangerous environment for critical and independent reporting: arbitrary surveillance, threats to the safety of journalists, abusive lawsuits as well as economic and political pressures. Taking specific measures proposed by the delegation and complying with European standards will allow the Government of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to make a clear demonstration of political commitment to improve press freedom in Greece and renew the trust of the media community. 


Provide guarantees against and punish arbitrary surveillance

Between 2020 and 2022, a number of journalists and media owners were subjected to wiretapping by the National Intelligence Service (EYP), which is controlled by the Office of the Prime Minister, under the pretext of protecting national security. Some also faced illegal surveillance with the powerful Predator spyware. Although numerous complaints were filed, justice has not yet been served for these serious cases of violation of individual privacy and of confidentiality of journalistic sources, a cornerstone of press freedom. Despite our alerts and specific proposals, the legislation regulating surveillance has undergone only cosmetic changes or changes designed to let the government off the hook. In line with the European Parliament’s recommendations and the extensive case law of the European Court of Human Rights, we ask: 


  • The Government and Parliament to urgently adopt amendments to the legislation, which will oblige competent prosecutors to provide a justification for any surveillance undertaken in the interest of national security that allows for proper scrutiny of its legality and proportionality, set up independent and effective judicial oversight o, allow for effective access to information by persons targeted with surveillance by removing the arbitrary three-year time limit and reinstating the sole responsibility of the Hellenic Authority for Communication Security and Privacy (ADAE), and establish specific safeguards for journalists;
  • The Government to quickly propose and the Greek President to adopt the decree – as stipulated in the law – regulating the use of spyware by the state, while applying the above-mentioned safeguards;
  • The Greek justice system to bring justice for the illegitimate and illegal spying on media professionals in a swift, independent and transparent manner, using the evidence provided by the journalists’ investigations and treating the specific cases as a felony (rather than as a misdemeanor which expires after five years).
  • The Government and Parliament to refrain from taking any steps that weaken the functional independence of the ADAE and ensure the body is free to carry out its mandate to investigate wiretapping without political pressures


Take enforceable action against impunity for crimes against journalists 

With the unsolved murder of crime reporter Giorgios Karaivaz as the gravest example, this mission finds that attacking a journalist in Greece continues to go unpunished in virtually all cases. We welcome the arrest in April 2023 of two suspected assassins in connection with the murder of Karaivaz, however, the case remains in a state of impunity as middlemen and masterminds have not been apprehended and no convictions have been secured. This delay in securing justice sends a worrying signal that impunity for the murder of journalists is tolerated. Other investigations of serious physical attacks on journalists have followed a similar course, such as the 2010 murder of Sokratis Giolias and the eleven physical attacks on media houses and journalists’ homes since 2019. Two further recent acts of violence and hostility against journalists Giorgos Papachristos (Ta Nea) and Kostas Vaxevanis (Documento), underline the need for urgent action.


After meetings with various Government officials, we conclude that no concrete measures have been taken to expedite justice. Complete data on attacks against journalists is not publicly available and no specific protocol for investigations of crimes against journalists appears to be in place. The establishment of the Task Force for the protection of journalists is a step in the right direction, but it requires sufficient resources, a timeline and the political backing required to be effective. Information on why investigations of these cases are not leading to convictions remains with individual prosecutors, and oversight authorities have not prioritised this issue. 


In line with the case law of the European Court of Human Rights and the European Commission’s Recommendation on the Safety of Journalists, we ask:


  • The Public Prosecutor to dedicate additional resources to and actively collaborate with international bodies such as Europol in the case of the murder of Giorgios Karaivaz;
  • The Parliament and Government, especially the Ministry of Civil Protection and Justice, to prioritise and commit to prompt, effective and independent investigations of crimes against journalists by dedicating additional resources and staff to these cases, recognising their special nature and impact on the public sphere;
  • The Prosecutor of the Supreme Court to commission an independent evaluation of all unresolved cases of attacks against journalists, including cases involving police violence, the conclusions of which should be publicised; 
  • The newly established spokesperson of the Prosecutor of the Supreme Court to take a leading role in the regular dissemination of information about investigations to restore faith in the commitment to justice and ensure greater transparency about ongoing investigations, in particular towards the victims and their families;
  • The Task Force to prioritise the establishment of a monitoring platform in which all attacks, including digital attacks and threats, are recorded and followed. 


Abusive litigation, including Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs)


When journalists in Greece report critically on powerful business and political interests, the possibility of facing abusive or frivolous legal action looms over them. During the mission, we heard from several journalists who face Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs) and other abusive litigation from politicians and business owners who accuse reporters of defamation or the infraction of other laws including GDPR for their reporting on political affairs, environmental crimes, corruption and other matters in the public interest. 


This weaponised abuse of the civil and criminal legal system serves not to seek proportionate legal redress but rather to silence critical voices, tying up financial and human resources as reporters and newsrooms must spend an inordinate amount of time in court to defend against baseless accusations. Especially for smaller outlets and freelance journalists, SLAPPs pose an existential threat as often the compensation demanded greatly exceeds their resources, which further exacerbates their intended chilling effect beyond the targeted journalist.


We ask:


Media independence and pluralism

Undercutting these issues, the Greek media ecosystem continues to suffer from multiple long-term and systemic challenges that negatively affect the landscape for independent journalism and press freedom. Many of these issues can be traced to the country’s prolonged financial and economic crisis, which severely weakened the media market and deepened the toxic entanglement of media with vested political and business interests. While the media market remains densely populated, political polarisation is deeply ingrained and media pluralism is weak. Ownership of major print and television channels by familial dynasties and shipping magnates, many of whom have political connections and cross-ownership interests in industries dependent on state contracts, exposes these media to potential conflicts of interest and weakens their editorial independence. As a result, although direct acts of censorship are rare, self-censorship is rife within the journalistic profession and certain topics are widely understood to be off-limits. The economic precariousness of journalists in Greece caused by low wages and weak industry protections leaves media professionals more vulnerable to editorial pressures. Economic weaknesses in the media market likewise expose Greek media to capture by vested interests.

While several regulatory and legal reforms have been implemented by the Government in the last few years to try and address these issues, so far their impact remains unclear. Positive changes include the new Registry for Print Media (MET) and Registry for Electronic Press (MHT), which aim to improve the transparency of media ownership, including beneficial ownership. Under a new system, media not registered in these bodies are not eligible to benefit from state advertising. The Ethics Committee and the Directorate for Media Oversight likewise represent a new approach, which will hopefully have a positive impact on improving media ethics. Greater transparency over the allocation of state funding to media is also essential. However, the direct oversight of the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT) and the Athens-Macedonian News Agency by the office of the Prime Minister continue to pose questions over the independence of both public media bodies, despite ostensible safeguards. The independence and competence of the National Council for Radio and Television (NCRTV) regulator remains in doubt.

While the country benefits from a small but highly professional group of independent and investigative media publishing vital public interest journalism, these titles remain isolated on the fringes of the media landscape and lack systemic support. The combination of these many challenges means Greek journalism faces a crisis of credibility, being one of the EU countries with the lowest level of trust in media by citizens. The challenges of pluralism and media independence are among the most complex to address and any positive developments in Greece will require action and responsibility from journalists and media, backed by unions, supported by strong political will from the Government.

To begin this process the Government should:

  • Take concrete steps to better regulate the fair and non-discriminatory allocation of state advertising to media in a transparent manner and based on strict and publicly available criteria;
  • Enforce the full implementation of the transparency of media ownership in Greece in an accessible and regularly updated ownership registry for all forms of media, including beneficial ownership;
  • In consultation with media stakeholders, develop reforms aimed at safeguarding independent journalism in line with provisions outlined in the proposed European Media Freedom Act (EMFA).

The media community should:

  • Support the pending establishment of an independent self-regulatory Media Council to enhance adherence to journalistic ethics, ensuring that the composition of this body is pluralistic and representative;
  • In media owned by wealthy and politically connected commercial interests, particularly in legacy broadcast and print media, journalists and editors should establish strict internal safeguards to prevent all forms of interference of owners and other politics and business interests, while also protecting editorial independence and journalistic freedoms and discouraging self-censorship.

Journalist unions and associations should:

  • Enhance cooperation to fight for the rights and freedoms of journalists, as well as collective agreements to improve working conditions and labour rights of all media workers;
  • Continue to support and contribute to the work of the government Task Force, while also pushing the body to be more ambitious in its approach to strengthening the safety of journalists and improving the broader situation for media freedom.


A detailed report with expanded recommendations will be published in the upcoming weeks, in both Greek and English, and will be shared with domestic stakeholders and European institutions.

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. 

MFRR 3 consortium logos
MFRR press freedom mission Turkey Library

Turkey: Annual international press freedom mission to Ankara, Diyarbakır…

Turkey: Annual international press freedom mission to Ankara, Diyarbakır and Istanbul

Between 2 and 5 October 2023, five international media freedom organisations will conduct an annual joint press freedom mission to Ankara, Diyarbakır and Istanbul. The mission will focus on the state of media freedom, the challenges experienced by journalists, media workers and the media landscape in general in the aftermath of devastating earthquakes, and the parliamentary and presidential elections this year.

The mission will start with a series of meetings with representatives of different political parties, the media regulator RTÜK, the Constitutional Court, journalism and media associations, and international mission representatives. As part of the mission, the delegation will also monitor the first hearing of Tele1 TV director Merdan Yanardağ in Istanbul who has been in prison since 27 June. On the last day of the mission, simultaneous press conferences will be held in Istanbul and Diyarbakır.


The mission will be led by the International Press Institute (IPI) as part of its #FreeTurkeyJournalists campaign and the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), and will be joined by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT), as well as the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

During the visit, the delegation will meet with leading media professionals, political officials, state representatives, international diplomatic missions, and other relevant stakeholders in the country. As part of the annual press freedom mission, the delegation confirms the long-standing commitment of the participating organisations to improving press freedom in the country. The delegation will examine the problems experienced by journalists and media workers in the aftermath of the devastating earthquakes in February 2023, as well as during the election period in the spring, threats to the safety of journalists and media pluralism, and legal safeguards.

On 5 October, the delegation will hold simultaneous press conferences in Diyarbakır and Istanbul to present initial observations and recommendations. A detailed mission report will be published by the end of the year.

This mission was coordinated as part of IPI’s #FreeTurkeyJournalists campaign and in cooperation with Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) partners. The MFRR is a Europe-wide mechanism which tracks, monitors, and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States and candidate countries.

MFRR 3 consortium logos
MFRR mission to Greece Library

Greece: International press freedom mission to Athens

Greece: International press freedom mission to Athens

Between 25 and 27 September 2023, eight international press freedom and freedom of expression organisations will conduct a joint advocacy and fact-finding mission to Athens. Following the parliamentary elections and nomination of the new government, the delegation will examine the challenges to media freedom, pluralism and independence in Greece and the impact of measures taken by the authorities to address them.

Between 25 and 27 September 2023, eight international press freedom and freedom of expression organisations will conduct a joint advocacy and fact-finding mission to Athens. Following the parliamentary elections and nomination of the new government, the delegation will examine the challenges to media freedom, pluralism and independence in Greece and the impact of measures taken by the authorities to address them.


The delegation will consist of representatives of the partners in the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), namely ARTICLE 19 Europe, the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), Free Press Unlimited (FPU), the International Press Institute (IPI) and the Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT). Representatives of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) join the mission.


During the visit, the delegation will meet with leading media professionals, political officials, state representatives and other important stakeholders. A follow-up to last year’s MFRR online fact-finding mission to Greece, the mission confirms the long-standing commitment of the participating organisations to improving press freedom in the country. It will examine threats to the safety of journalists, impunity of crimes committed against them, surveillance, risks to media pluralism, and legal threats, including Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs). 


On 27 September, the delegation will hold a press conference in Athens to present initial observations and recommendations. A detailed mission report will be published in autumn.

This mission 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.

MFRR 3 consortium logos
MFRR fact-finding mission Poland Library

Polish media grapple with unprecedented challenges and uncertain future…

Polish media grapple with unprecedented challenges and uncertain future as the country faces electoral crossroads

At the conclusion of their press freedom mission to Warsaw from 11-13 September, partner organisations of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) declared that the media and journalists in Poland are facing unprecedented challenges including legal threats, financial precarity, political pressure, regulatory capture and growing polarisation.

The delegation, comprised of representatives of ARTICLE 19 Europe, the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), Free Press Unlimited (FPU) and International Press Institute (IPI), met with editors, journalists, regulators, civil society groups, lawyers, the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights and the Ministry of Culture to hear directly about the conditions under which media are currently operating in the build up to the parliamentary elections due on 15 October.  

Poland has long enjoyed one of the most robust and pluralistic media markets in central and eastern Europe, however in recent years Poland has witnessed intensifying efforts to assert control and influence over large sections of the media. The situation is further exacerbated by the deep polarisation within the media and between journalists.

Within weeks of the 2015 election, the ruling coalition led by the Law and Justice (PiS) party passed a provisional law to dismiss the board and senior management of public service media enabling it to take full control on the information it aired. The Telewizja Polska (TVP) today occupies approximately a third of the broadcast market and enjoys an annual budget of 2.5 billion Zlotys (550 million euros). According to monitoring figures provided by the Polish National Broadcasting Council (KRRiT) for the second quarter of 2023, the governing coalition dominates TVP news, enjoying 80% of political coverage, of which 73% is dedicated to PiS. Oppositional political parties meanwhile share the remaining 20% of coverage, which is overwhelmingly negative. 

These figures alone demonstrate how TVP is failing in the fundamental duty of any public broadcaster to provide fair and balanced political coverage between and during elections.

The private broadcast sector has also come under intense pressure through a variety of means to ensure pliable media that are cautious of holding the government to account.

KRRiT, whose composition is controlled by PiS allies, has used its licensing powers to create business uncertainty and intimidate broadcasters such as TVN and RADIO TOK FM.  In the past years, KRRiT has also issued a number of financial penalties against broadcasters for reporting on issues such as the new school history books, questioning the official report into the Smolensk air crash tragedy and child abuse within the catholic church.

Media pluralism was further compromised when the state controlled energy giant PKN Orlen took over the largest regional media company, Polska Press, in 2021 leading to the rapid replacement of most of the editors in chief with journalists from TVP and other pro-PiS media. The purchase has further restricted access to diverse media, particularly in rural areas with limited internet access. 

Local independent media are in an exceptionally precarious situation facing financial and distribution troubles, legal threats and uneven competition against media backed by the local authorities. 

Meanwhile, many private media are denied access to state advertising funds which PiS has weaponised to fund favourable media outlets and undermine independent journalism. The move exacerbates the financial pressures on media, particularly print media, that are still trying to find sustainable income streams to support the transition to digital. 

Polish media are additionally subjected to one of the largest number of vexatious lawsuits, or SLAPPs, in the European Union. Though judicial harassment of journalists is not new, since PiS came to power abusive litigation has become an inherent strategy for weakening critical media. Most SLAPPs are taken by politicians from the governing parties or state companies and public institutions and are therefore financed by public funds. 

The overwhelming majority of commentators met by the mission expressed the concern that the country was at a crossroads and that four more years of the current policy would accelerate media capture and push Poland down the path to emulating the situations in Hungary, Turkey or Russia.

The mission will issue its full report in the first week of October.

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.

MFRR 3 consortium logos
Poland flag Library

Poland: MFRR to visit Warsaw for press freedom mission

Poland: MFRR to visit Warsaw for press freedom mission

Partner organisations of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) will travel to Warsaw on 11-13 September 2023 to conduct an international press freedom mission ahead of the country’s upcoming general election on 15 October.

The MFRR mission will be joined by representatives of the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), the International Press Institute (IPI), ARTICLE 19 Europe, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and Free Press Unlimited (FPU).

The delegation will assess the current state of play for media freedom and pluralism and identify the biggest challenges facing independent journalism in the context of the election. The visit to Warsaw follows a previous online fact-finding mission conducted by the MFRR in 2020.

During the mission, representatives will meet with leading journalists, editors, media experts, civil society groups, political figures and state representatives. The mission will seek to hear a broad range of views and perspectives from across the political spectrum.

Key themes to be assessed during the visit include independent media regulation, threats to media pluralism, particularly at the regional and local level, public service broadcasting, media capture, and legal threats and Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs).

A report with key conclusions and recommendations for the winner of the October 2023 election on how to improve the situation for media freedom will follow shortly after.

The MFRR monitors violations of press and media freedom in the EU Member States and candidate countries and responds with practical and legal support and advocacy. Since the project’s start in March 2020, it has conducted multiple similar media freedom missions.

This mission is 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.

MFRR 3 consortium logos
mission to Turkey Library

Media Freedom on the Line as Turkey Approaches Elections

Media Freedom on the Line as Turkey Approaches Elections

As Turkey prepares for presidential and parliamentary elections, press freedom and human rights groups demand that, whoever forms the next government, unwinding a decade of restrictions on media freedom must be a central priority for the country.


Turkish translation available here.

The extent of the media freedom crisis facing Turkey is outlined in the International Press Institute’s (IPI) report ‘Turkey: Throttling the Media in Crucial Election Year’ to be presented on World Press Freedom Day, 2023. The report is based on the results of the international media freedom mission led by IPI in October 2022. 


According to the report: Turkey’s journalists are facing a perfect storm of physical, judicial and regulatory threats designed to silence independent reporting and muzzle public debate.


The passing of the disinformation law in 2022 was the latest effort to bring the digital space to heel and ensure the social media platforms either submit to a role as conduits for government censorship, or resist and risk enormous financial penalties and ultimately their closure. 


Media regulators continue to fine broadcasters for critical programming and the courts continue the prosecution of journalists. Meanwhile a febrile atmosphere generated by political hostility to journalists, backed by a police force that beats up journalists with impunity, has created a tinderbox that could ignite into violence and further suppression at any moment.


In the months since the mission, journalists have been fearful of falling foul of the disinformation law which criminalizes ‘disinformation and fake news’ which is loosely defined as news intended to instigate fear, panic, endanger the security, public order or the health of society. The law establishes a framework for extensive censorship of online information and the criminalization of journalists.   While we are aware of only a handful of cases where the law has been cited when detaining individual journalists to date, it provided the legal basis for the unprecedented throttling of Twitter in February which the government initially justified as necessary to stop the spread of fake news following the earthquake. Public reaction forced the government into a swift U-turn. 


We call on the new government to immediately abolish the disinformation law.


During 2023 the broadcast regulator, RTÜK, has continued to issue fines against independent broadcasters on an almost monthly basis for criticizing the government. This evidence reinforced the mission report’s conclusions that the regulator has been weaponized to silence legitimate criticism and that this crucially undermines the electoral process. 


We call on the new government to ensure that all media regulators are fully independent of government and that they operate without prejudice and in full respect of media freedom. 


In the year since May 3, 2022 the Mapping Media Freedom database records 34 physical assaults on at least 72 journalists. This unacceptably high level of violence reinforces concerns expressed in the report about prosecutors’ failures to adequately punish those who perpetrate violence against journalists including the lack of accountability for police officers who assault journalists. 


We call on the new government to reform the judicial authorities’ approach towards journalists’ safety.


The April 25 dawn raids on Kurdish media which saw first the detention of at least 10 journalists of which five have since been charged with membership of an illegal organization, underline the relentless suppression faced by Kurdish journalists. The report records the mission’s meeting in Diyarbakir with journalists to discuss their plight following similar raids in June 2022 that saw the arrests of 20 journalists. 


We call on the new government to end the decades-long suppression of Kurdish journalism. 


The mission met with representatives of the Constitutional Court which has issued some important rulings including the August 2022 ruling that the arbitrary and consecutive bans on public advertising in independent newspapers by the Press Advertising Agency (BIK) violated freedom of expression and press freedom. However, there remain major challenges on the implementation of its rulings by lower courts and the delays in addressing important freedom of expression violations underscoring that justice delayed is justice denied. 


We call on the new government to reinforce the independence and capacity of the Constitutional Court to pursue and speed up justice for journalists and ensure its rulings, and those of the European Court of Human Rights are followed by the lower courts. 


The mission report further notes how, under the conditions, the survival of Turkey’s journalism can be attributed to some incredible and courageous individuals dedicated to their journalistic mission, backed by networks of journalists’ organizations, nationally and internationally, ready to support their members and colleagues wherever possible. It is also a result of a public thirst for independent reliable news that cannot be quenched. Turkey’s journalists still have a pivotal role to play in this election year and the building of a strong democratic society to come.


The mission was led by the International Press Institute (IPI) and included ARTICLE 19, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Osservatorio Balcani Caucaso Transeuropea (OBCT) and Amnesty International Turkey (AI). It was organized as part of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) programme. 

Signed by:

  • Amnesty International
  • International Press Institute (IPI)
  • European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
  • Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
  • Osservatorio Balcani Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT)
  • Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
MFRR 3 consortium logos

Türkiye’de Seçimler Yaklaşırken Basın Özgürlüğü Tehlikede

Türkiye yaklaşan cumhurbaşkanlığı ve meclis seçimlerine hazırlanırken, medya özgürlüğü ve insan hakları kuruluşları; seçimin ardından iş başına gelecek hükümeti kim kurarsa kursun, medya özgürlüğü üzerindeki on yıllık kısıtlamaların kaldırılmasının ülke için temel bir öncelik olmasını talep ediyor. 

Türkiye’nin karşı karşıya olduğu medya özgürlüğü krizinin boyutları Uluslararası Basın Enstitüsü’nün (IPI) Dünya Basın Özgürlüğü Günü 2023 kapsamında sunulacak olan ‘Türkiye: Kritik Seçim Yılında Medyaya Yönelik Kısıtlamalar’ başlıklı raporunda özetlenmiştir. Rapor, Ekim 2022’de IPI öncülüğünde yürütülen medya özgürlüğü uluslararası misyonunun sonuçlarına dayanmaktadır.

Rapora göre: Türkiye’deki gazeteciler, bağımsız haberciliği susturmak ve kamusal tartışmayı sessizleştirmek için tasarlanmış fiziksel, yargısal ve mevzuata dayalı tehditlerden oluşan mükemmel bir fırtınayla karşı karşıyadır.

Ekim 2022’de kabul edilen ve sosyal medya mecralarını hükümet sansürü için bir aygıt haline gelerek boyun eğme ya da direnerek yüksek para cezaları ile karşı karşıya kalma ve nihayetinde kapatılma riskini göze alma seçeneklerine zorlayan Dezenformasyon Yasası, dijital alanı boyun eğmeye zorlama amacıyla meclise getirilen en son girişimdi. 

Medya düzenleyicileri eleştirel programlar nedeniyle yayıncılara ceza kesmeye, mahkemeler de gazetecileri yargılamaya devam ediyor. Bu arada, gazetecilere cezasızlık zırhı altında fiziksel şiddet uygulayan bir polis gücü tarafından desteklenen, gazetecilere yönelik siyasi düşmanlığın yarattığı gergin ortam, her an şiddete ve daha fazla baskıya dönüşebilecek bir yangın yeri yaratmış durumda.

2022 yılının sonunda gerçekleştirilen misyondan bu yana gazeteciler; korku, panik yaratma, toplumun güvenliğini, kamu düzenini veya sağlığını tehlikeye atma amaçlı haberler olarak muğlak bir şekilde tanımlanan ‘dezenformasyon ve yalan haberleri’ suç sayan dezenformasyon yasasının radarına takılmaktan çekindiler. Yasa, çevrimiçi bilginin kapsamlı bir şekilde sansürlenmesi ve gazetecilerin kriminalize edilmesi için bir çerçeve oluşturmaktadır. Bugüne kadar bireysel olarak habercilerin gözaltına alınması sırasında bu yasaya atıfta bulunulduğu sadece birkaç vaka gözlemlense de, yasa Şubat ayında Twitter’ın eşi benzeri görülmemiş bir şekilde kısıtlanmasına yasal dayanak sağlamış ve hükümet başlangıçta depremin ardından yalan haberlerin yayılmasını durdurmak için gerekli olduğu gerekçesini öne sürmüştür. Ancak kamuoyundan gelen yoğun tepki hükümeti bu konuda keskin bir U dönüşüne zorlamıştır. 

Yeni hükümeti, dezenformasyon yasasını derhal yürürlükten kaldırmaya çağırıyoruz.

2023 yılı boyunca yayın düzenleyicisi RTÜK, hükümeti eleştirdikleri gerekçesiyle bağımsız yayıncılara neredeyse her ay ceza kesmeye devam etmiştir. Bu kanıtlar, misyon raporunun, düzenleyici kurumun meşru eleştirileri susturmak için güçlü bir araç olarak kullanıldığı ve bunun seçim sürecini önemli ölçüde baltaladığı yönündeki sonuçlarını desteklemiştir. 

Yeni hükümeti, tüm medya düzenleyicilerinin hükümetten tamamen bağımsız olmalarını, medya özgürlüğüne tam saygı çerçevesinde ve önyargısız faaliyet göstermelerini sağlamaya çağırıyoruz. 

Mapping Media Freedom veritabanı 3 Mayıs 2022’den bu yana geçen bir yıl içinde en az 72 gazeteciye yönelik 34 fiziksel saldırı vakası kaydetmiştir. Kabul edilemez düzeydeki şiddet vakaları, gazetecilere saldıran polis memurlarının hesap verebilirliğinin olmaması da dahil olmak üzere, savcıların gazetecilere karşı şiddet uygulayanları uygun şekilde cezalandırmadaki başarısızlıklarına ilişkin raporda dile getirilen endişeleri güçlendirmektedir. 

Yeni hükümeti, adli makamların gazetecilerin güvenliğine yönelik yaklaşımında reform yapmaya çağırıyoruz.

25 Nisan’da Kürt medyasına yönelik şafak baskınlarında ilk etapta en az 10 gazetecinin gözaltına alınması ve bunlardan beşinin örgüt üyeliğiyle suçlanması, Kürt gazetecilerin karşı karşıya kaldığı amansız baskıyı gözler önüne sermektedir. Rapor, misyonun Haziran 2022’de 20 gazetecinin gözaltına alındığı benzer baskınların ardından gazetecilerin durumunu görüşmek üzere Diyarbakır’da gazetecilerle bir araya geldiğini de hatırlatmaktadır. 

Yeni hükümeti, Kürt medyasına yönelik on yıllardır süren baskılara son vermeye çağırıyoruz. 

Heyet, Basın İlan Kurumu’nun (BİK) bağımsız gazetelerdeki kamu reklamlarını keyfi ve art arda yasaklamasının ifade ve basın özgürlüğünü ihlal ettiğine dair Ağustos 2022 tarihli kararı da dahil olmak üzere bazı önemli kararlar veren Anayasa Mahkemesi temsilcileriyle bir araya geldi. Bununla birlikte, kararların alt mahkemeler tarafından uygulanmasına ilişkin büyük zorluklar devam etmekte ve önemli ifade hürriyeti ihlallerinin ele alınmasındaki gecikmeler, ‘geciken adalet, adalet değildir’ sözünü akıllara getirmektedir. 

Yeni hükümeti, gazeteciler için adaleti yakından takip etmek ve hızlandırmak üzere Anayasa Mahkemesinin bağımsızlığını ve kapasitesini güçlendirmeye ve bu mahkemenin ve Avrupa İnsan Hakları Mahkemesinin kararlarının alt mahkemeler tarafından takip edilmesini sağlamaya çağırıyoruz. 

Raporda ayrıca, mevcut koşullar altında Türkiye’de gazeteciliğin, kendini gazetecilik misyonuna adamış, ulusal ve uluslararası gazetecilik meslek örgütleri ağları tarafından desteklenen ve mümkün olan her yerde üyelerini ve meslektaşlarını desteklemeye hazır olan cesur ve özverili bireyler sayesinde ayakta kalabildiği belirtilmektedir. Bu aynı zamanda kamuoyunun bağımsız ve güvenilir haberlere olan yoğun ihtiyacının da bir sonucudur. Gazetecilerin Türkiye’deki bu seçim yılında ve gelecekte güçlü ve demokratik bir toplumun inşasında oynayacakları çok önemli bir rol vardır.

Uluslararası Basın Enstitüsü (IPI) öncülüğündeki heyette ARTICLE 19, Gazetecileri Koruma Komitesi (CPJ), Avrupa Basın ve Medya Özgürlüğü Merkezi (ECPMF), Sınır Tanımayan Gazeteciler (RSF), Osservatorio Balcani Caucaso Transeuropea (OBCT) ve Uluslararası Af Örgütü Türkiye (AI) yer almıştır. Bu misyon, Medya Özgürlüğü Acil Müdahale (MFRR) programının bir parçası olarak düzenlenmiştir. 

MFRR 3 consortium logos

Slovakia: Fifth anniversary of Kuciak and Kušnírová’s killing marked…

Slovakia: Fifth anniversary of Kuciak and Kušnírová’s killing marked by fragile press freedom progress

Five years after the assassination of Já​​n Kuciak and Martina Kušnírová, Slovak judges are nearing their judgment in the retrial of the alleged mastermind of the murder of’s journalist and his fiancée.

While the hitmen and an intermediary of the February 2018 killing have already been convicted to long prison sentences, suspect Marián Kočner, charged with ordering the crime, was acquitted. With the retrial verdict expected in April 2023, our organisations renew our call for full justice for the double murder.


The undersigned organisations conducted a fact-finding and advocacy mission in the country to express their support to the families and colleagues of Já​​n Kuciak and Martina Kušnírová and as well as to evaluate press freedom in Slovakia five years after their murder. We took active part in the commemorative events and met with Slovak journalists. In meetings with the President, Prime Minister and political parties, we encouraged them to continue reforms and implement new measures to improve safety of journalists and independence of the media – including the public broadcaster RTVS – and to protect against abusive lawsuits and defend whistleblowers. Like the road to full justice for Já​​n and Martina’s assassination, Slovakia’s progress on media freedom remains fragile.


As political parties prepare for early elections scheduled for September 2023, our organisations call for new political consensus and commitments to improve media freedom and the safety of journalists to prevent any future killing of a journalist and allow Ján Kuciak’s colleagues to continue his legacy of public interest reporting.


1. Safety of journalists

After the 2020 elections, law enforcement bodies – the police, special prosecution and the courts – started tackling corruption revealed by journalists, which won them their trust. But full justice has not yet been served for either the assassination of Ján Kuciak or for other crimes against journalists such as their massive surveillance by “Kocner’s squad”, a network of individuals paid to supply information to the businessman. At the same time, the new survey conducted by the Investigative Centre of Ján Kuciak (ICJK) within the project shows Slovak journalists are most frequently targeted with online and verbal attacks. 


One of the greatest threats journalists in Slovakia are facing today are verbal attacks including denigrating smear campaigns from politicians, which acts as a signpost for members of the public to further carry out online abuse. These attacks from politicians – which should be unequivocally condemned – remain largely unsanctioned.


Political leaders and parties should:

  • Commit to providing law enforcement authorities with all necessary means to bring about justice for crimes against journalists and improve their protection in line with the European Commission’s Journalist Safety Recommendation from September 2021. 
  • Pledge to respond positively if Slovakia’s new protection mechanism,, requests cooperation. 
  • Pledge to ban verbal attacks and smear campaigns against media, and to condemn such attacks and sanction party members who violate the ban.
  • Pass amendments to the criminal code to strengthen punishments for aggravated attacks and threats against journalists targeted for their work.


2. Independence of the media

In 2022, Parliament passed important bills strengthening the legal protection of confidentiality of journalistic sources as well as reinforcing transparency of media ownership and funding. The former Director General of the public broadcaster RTVS, under whose mandate more than 30 journalists had quit, was replaced after a transparent election in parliament. Lawmakers have, however, failed to fundamentally reform the heavily political selection process. Moreover, as of July 2023, they decided to remove the licence fees, the main source of funding, and replace them with state subsidies pending a long-term solution. It was reported to the mission that the new Director General enjoys the general trust of the media community.


The current government should swiftly propose a new mechanism which will guarantee adequate and stable funding for RTVS, free of political pressures and overseen by an independent body. A public consultation involving the broadcaster should also be organised. After the next general election, political parties should commit to reforming the selection process of the public media’s Director General and its oversight body to further increase RTVS’ independence. By doing so, political leaders should be inspired by good practice and the positive elements of the European Commission’s proposed European Media Freedom Act.


3. Protection against abusive lawsuits and access to information

We welcome the commitment by the government to implement the European Commission’s recommendation against Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs) and to support the proposed anti-SLAPP Directive. We call on all parties to follow this lead and pledge similar reforms to tackle vexatious lawsuits at the national level.


We are concerned that defamation remains punishable in Slovakia by a prison sentence of two to eight years. Although such sentences, among the harshest in the EU, are not applied by courts, they allow politicians and businessmen to exercise pressure on journalists. Media continue to be targeted by civil lawsuits with requests for damages of tens of thousands of euros. The Ministry of Justice has proposed to decrease the maximum prison sentence for defamation to one year and – in case of significant damage – to two years. Political parties are called upon to remove altogether prison sentences for defamation and to fully decriminalise defamation.


The legal framework for Freedom of Information (FOI) remains strong overall and among the best in the EU. It is positive that the Amendments to the FOI Act were passed by Parliament in 2022, banning the lawsuits against journalists for publishing information obtained via FOI requests. We welcome the establishment of the Office for the Protection of Whistleblowers, urge the government to transpose the EU Whistleblower Directive in full, and take all measures to provide maximum protection to all whistleblowers.


The assassination of Ján Kuciak and Martina Kušnírová led to sweeping societal and political changes in Slovakia. However, the mastermind of the murder has still not been convicted and the authorities have yet to take all necessary measures to protect journalists and defend independent media. The end of impunity must become a reality and the new political cycle must be turned by political parties into an opportunity to strengthen press freedom.



ARTICLE 19 Europe

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)

European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)

European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)

Free Press Unlimited (FPU)

International Press Institute (IPI)

Reporters Without Borders (RSF)

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.

MFRR 3 consortium logos
Slovakia Mission Library

Slovakia: Press freedom groups to visit Bratislava for Ján…

Slovakia: Press freedom groups to visit Bratislava for Ján Kuciak murder anniversary

Between 20 and 21 February 2023, a delegation of international media freedom organisations will conduct a joint mission to Bratislava to mark the five-year anniversary of the killing of Slovak investigative journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kušnírová.

The aim of the mission is twofold. Firstly, to take part in the anniversary events and express solidarity with the families and the Slovak journalistic community as the retrial of the alleged mastermind at the Specialised Criminal Court reaches its final stage.


Secondly, five years after the assassination, to evaluate the security of journalists and the legal framework for their work, to understand the challenges facing independent journalism in private and public media, and to take the pulse of overall press freedom in the country.


The main question the delegation will seek to answer is: five years on from the killing, have the changes in Slovak politics, legislation, law enforcement, media industry and society been systemic enough to ensure the murder of a journalist never happens again and that media professionals can work freely?


The mission will be joined by the International Press Institute (IPI), European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), Reporters Without Borders (RSF), European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Free Press Unlimited (FPU) and ARTICLE 19 Europe. The mission is part of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR).


During the visit, the delegation will meet with editors and journalists of the major Slovak media including the public broadcaster RTVS. The organisations will discuss their proposals for the improvement of press freedom at meetings with representatives of the government, the opposition, the police presidency, chief prosecutor’s office and other public officials. Members of the delegation will speak at the conference “Media Freedom 2023” organized on 20 February in Bratislava by the Ministry of Culture under the auspices of the Media Freedom Coalition.


Interim findings for the mission will be shared via press conference at 15.00 on 21 February at the European Information Centre, Palisády 29, 811 06 Staré Mesto, Bratislava.

Press contacts

For more information and press contacts, please contact:

  • Flutura Kusari, European Centre for Press and Media Freedom +383 49 236 664.
  • Pavol Szalai, Reporters Without Borders, +33 7 82 31 50 98.
  • Jamie Wiseman, International Press Institute,
MFRR 3 consortium logos
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.

MFRR 3 consortium logos
Ceska Televize Library

Czech Republic: MFRR pushes for reforms to strengthen independence…

Czech Republic: MFRR pushes for reforms to strengthen independence of public broadcaster

Representatives from the International Press Institute (IPI) and European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) travelled to Prague on Wednesday June 15 to meet with officials from the Ministry of Culture and push for the development of reforms which strengthen the independence of the country’s public broadcaster.

During the one-day visit, the delegation met with journalists and editors from independent media, representatives from the Endowment Fund for Independent Journalism (NFNZ), the director general of the Czech Television Petr Dvořák, and representatives from the Ministry of Culture under the new coalition government of Petr Fiala.


Discussions centred around the preparation of draft amendments aimed at creating additional safeguards to protect the institutional and editorial independence of Czech Television, which faced sustained pressure under the former government led by Andrej Babiš.


During the meeting with the Ministry, it was confirmed to the delegation that progress had been made in negotiations regarding the amendments and that the cabinet is due to discuss a re-worked package of reforms this week, June 20-24.


The new package contains only a handful of the amendments initially proposed by civil society groups including the NFNZ and IPI CZ and which were supported by the organisations of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR). According to information provided to the delegation, the revised amendments will include:


  • Changing the law so that both chambers of parliament, rather than just the Chamber of Deputies, will be involved in appointments to the Czech Television Council. This more staggered system is intended to make it more difficult for a government to use a parliamentary majority to overly politicise the composition of the council;


  • Tightening the rules for who can nominate candidates for the CT Council. Under the proposed amendment, only established institutions with 10 years of experience in the fields such as media, culture or human rights would be permitted to nominate candidates;


  • Removing the ability of parliament to reject the annual report of the public broadcaster, eliminating the ability of the parliament to twice reject the report and subsequently dismiss the entire CT Council;


  • Increasing the number of councillors on the CT Council from 15 to 18. Under the draft, the Senate would vote for six and the Chamber of Deputies will appoint the other 12. A qualified majority of 10 would be needed to appoint and dismiss the director general.


As part of the initial reform package developed by the Ministry of Culture, when the amendments entered into force the entire CT Council would have been dismissed and elections would have been held under the new appointment system. However, the Legislative Council of the Government raised concerns about the legality of the move and a compromise was required, causing significant delays while coalition parties negotiated an alternative.


Under the rewritten plans, the number of councillors will instead be increased by three. In another shift, the Chamber of Deputies would elect two thirds of the councillors rather than the original proposed 50:50 split between the Chamber and the Senate.


If approved by the cabinet in June, the draft amendment would then need approval from the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate before being signed into law.


“It is uplifting to finally see progress made on the preparation of a new draft. While this new package contains only a fraction of the initial proposals, if passed these amendments would still have a significant impact and create additional safeguards against future attempts to undermine the independence of Czech Television”, said IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen, who participated in the visit. “We urge the cabinet to swiftly approve this first package of reforms and send the package to parliament for a vote. It is vital that early momentum of improving the landscape for media freedom is not lost.


“However, this should be seen as a first step in a wider process of reform – one which must urgently include the provision of sustainable financing for Czech Television. The Czech public broadcaster has been, and remains, a standard bearer for other public service media in the region. Shoring up its financial stability and passing amendments which help future-proof the institution against political attacks would provide a much-needed example of resilience in central and eastern Europe. Our organisations will continue to closely follow the legislative process and push for additional needed improvements for media freedom in the coming months.”


During the meeting at the Ministry, the delegation was also informed that a working group is due to be established to discuss a second package of reforms to the Act on Czech Television and Czech Radio. This would include the proposal to legislate for automatic increases in the licence fee in line with inflation, as well as greater judicial oversight over dismissals of councillors and the creation of professional criteria for those seeking election to the CT Council. IPI strongly urged that this working group include independent national and international experts.


Coming in the wake of an announcement about forced cuts to budgets and staff numbers, a solution to the unsustainable financial situation at Czech Television is viewed by the delegation as essential in the coming months. In total, the broadcaster will be forced to cut 910 million crowns (€36.8 million) by 2024 and intends to axe its newest channel, ČT3. The license fee has not increased since 2008.


During the visit of the delegation to Prague, the delayed election for the CT Council was also held. After the governing coalition passed a motion for the vote to be made public, the opposition party boycotted the vote. Five new councillors were appointed, all of whom have suitable professional qualifications and expertise.

This mission 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.

MFRR 3 consortium logos