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Netherlands: Press freedom organisations welcome policy debate on media…

Netherlands: Press freedom organisations welcome policy debate on media freedom and journalists’ safety

The partners in the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) and other undersigned press freedom organisations welcome the publication of the letter from the Dutch Government to the Parliament of 29 June 2022 regarding a proposed policy approach on media freedom and safety of journalists.

The partners in the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) and other undersigned press freedom organisations welcome the publication of the letter from the Dutch Government to the Parliament of 29 June 2022 regarding a proposed policy approach on media freedom and safety of journalists.

 

We commend that in preparation of its letter, the Government has taken into account reports by domestic and international journalists’ and civil society organisations, including the work of the Nederlandse Vereniging van Journalisten, the recent MFRR report ‘Towards a safer haven: Advancing safety of journalists amidst rising threats in the Netherlands’ and Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index

 

The undersigned organisations, while recognising that the Netherlands remains – by global standards – a relatively safe place for journalists and media workers, found there is room for improvement in a number of areas. These include the need to ensure a better understanding of the role of the press among the general public and the fact that specific categories of journalists, including women and freelance reporters, suffer specific threats that require a more targeted policy approach. We also call for a tailored approach to police protection against serious threats from organised crime. Furthermore, we recommend an enhanced focus on preventive measures. 

 

The undersigned organisations welcome the Government’s constructive approach to these concerns, which we find reflected in its letter to Parliament, and look forward to seeing how this initial proposal will be further developed and strengthened through the upcoming parliamentary debate after recess, and beyond. In this regard, we also stress the importance of due implementation. We hope that throughout this process, politicians and policy makers will continue to seek and constructively engage with the views of domestic and international professional associations and civil society organisations, and we remain ready to participate in this process.

Signed by:

  • 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)
  • OBC Transeuropa (OBCT)
  • 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, Candidate Countries and Ukraine.

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MFRR fact finding mission to the Netherlands February 2022 Library

Netherlands: Towards a safer haven: Advancing safety of journalists…

Netherlands: Towards a safer haven: Advancing safety of journalists amidst rising threats in the Netherlands

Following interviews with more than twenty local stakeholders, the MFRR concludes that policy and practice around the safety of journalists in the Netherlands in many ways constitutes a best practice example, thanks to its pioneering PersVeilig mechanism. Nevertheless, there remains a need to strengthen several areas to better protect journalists and media workers against the increasingly hostile climate pursuant to intensified societal polarisation and threats emanating from organised crime.

The report details the findings and recommendations of the MFRR’s online fact-finding mission that took place in February 2022, led by Free Press Unlimited (FPU) together with the European Centre of Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) and the International Press Institute (IPI), with the participation of the other MFRR partners plus the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders, and in collaboration with the Nederlandse Vereniging voor Journalisten (NVJ).

The Netherlands generally remains a safe haven for journalists and media workers. The pioneering PersVeilig mechanism is a key actor in ensuring and advancing journalists’ safety and is a noteworthy example of constructive cooperation and dialogue between the journalistic community and state authorities. Both symbolically and practically, PersVeilig makes it clear that attacks and harassment of reporters are not tolerated and are addressed collectively.

While the assessment of PersVeilig is overwhelmingly positive, both among the MFRR’s partner organisations and its interlocutors during the fact-finding mission, room for improvement remains in a number of areas. These include implementing agreed-upon protocols more consistently and ensuring the project’s capacity and continuity.

Despite the relatively favourable conditions for press freedom and a pioneering mechanism, the MFRR mission confirmed that aggression against journalists is on the rise amidst a hardening of public debate and increasing polarisation in society. Subsequently, and despite the high willingness to cooperate between the journalistic community and law enforcement, the need remains to ensure a better understanding of the role of the press during protests, as well as changes to operational procedures to protect this role.

Certain categories of journalists suffer specific threats, particularly freelance reporters and women journalists. In this regard, it became clear throughout the mission that the Dutch approach to the safety of journalists lacks a gender lens. Moreover, while the Dutch policy approach scores well when it comes to putting in place mechanisms to protect journalists and prosecute offenders, there is room for improvement as concerns prevention.

Furthermore, with regard to threats from organised crime, there is a need to study the creation of tailored protection packages and consider improvements to the protection of journalists who cover high-profile criminal trials.

In light of its findings and to ensure that the Netherlands maintains its leadership position when it comes to the safety of journalists, the MFRR issued more than twenty specific recommendations to the authorities of the Netherlands, law enforcement, the journalistic community, PersVeilig and social media platforms.

The fact-finding mission to the Netherlands 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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MFRR to host press conference on journalist safety in…

MFRR to host press conference on journalist safety in the Netherlands

As part of an international fact-finding mission to map the declining safety of journalists in the Netherlands, Free Press Unlimited, the European Center for Press and Media Freedom, and the International Press Institute are organising an international press conference on April 13th 3:30-4:30 PM CEST.

The report is published as part of the Media Freedom Rapid Response. A panel discussion will be held with, among others, crime reporter Paul Vugts and Thomas Bruning, Secretary General of the Dutch Association of Journalists. This will be a hybrid event with the chance to ask questions both in-person and online.

The Netherlands is internationally known for having one of the highest levels of press freedom worldwide (ranking 6th in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index); PersVeilig often being cited as a best-practice example. However, there are growing concerns regarding an uptake in aggression against journalists. With an increase in attacks on journalists in the Netherlands, the decision by major Dutch Public Broadcaster NOS to remove their broadcaster logos from its vans in order to protect employees, and following the murder of Peter R. de Vries in broad daylight, the topic of press freedom in the Netherlands is receiving more and more international attention.

To investigate this further, Free Press Unlimited took the lead in an international fact-finding mission. As part of the mission, Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) partners together with the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders, conducted several interviews with, among others, some of the country’s most renowned investigative journalists, editors-in-chief, the Police Department, key academic figures, and influential policy-makers. The findings of these interviews have been compiled and mapped out as part of an international research study on the safety of journalists in the Netherlands. Ultimately, the research study maps out key findings of the discussions that were held, providing expert recommendations in line with the Council of Europe and the European Commission’s Recommendations on the Safety of Journalists. If you wish to join, please register using the button below. Registration is required for both physical and online participation.

This press conference 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.

Photo in header: ANP / Hollandse Hoogte / GinoPress Library

Netherlands: International media freedom mission on the safety of…

Netherlands: International media freedom mission on the safety of Dutch journalists

As part of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), Free Press Unlimited and the European Center for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) are organising an international media freedom mission to the Netherlands. With the mission the consortium members want to map the decreasing security of journalists in the Netherlands. We want to contrast this with the fact that with the establishment of PersVeilig (Press Safe) at the end of 2019 there is a strong security mechanism for journalists. The mission will be held at the beginning of 2022.

With attacks on journalists increasing, the public broadcaster NOS removing its logos from vans to protect its employees, and Peter R. de Vries being murdered in broad daylight, the state of press and media freedom in the Netherlands is receiving more and more international attention. That is why we are organizing an international mission on the safety of journalists in the Netherlands in close consultation with the Dutch Association of Journalists (NVJ). As part of the mission, we enter into discussions with journalists and editors-in-chief, policymakers, the police and the Public Prosecution Service, experts, and Members of Parliament. The end result will be a comprehensive report on the safety of journalists in the Netherlands that will be presented in an international press conference as the conclusion of the mission.

Safety of journalists in the Netherlands

The mission will address the issue of the safety of journalists in the Netherlands, focusing on the threats posed by organized crime, as well as increasing hostility to the members of press and media outlets by protesters and civilians. According to the NVJ, 82% of Dutch journalists have experienced aggression or intimidation in 2020. This is an increase of 20% compared to 2017. In 2017, 79% believed that threats to journalists pose a threat to press freedom. In 2021 this has increased to 93%. The increasing trends raise questions when it comes to the high ranking of the Netherlands on the Press Freedom Index and the internationally acclaimed PersVeilig (Press Safe) Mechanism. In addition, the mission will examine what prevention mechanisms currently exist, and what the Dutch authorities can do to prevent intimidation and violence against journalists.

MFRR Missions

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, a number of similar missions have been organized to Greece, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia, Spain and Slovenia.

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.

Peter R. De Vries Library

Killing of Peter R. de Vries highlights press freedom…

Killing of Peter R. de Vries highlights press freedom challenges in Netherlands

By IPI Contributor Tan Tunali

The line in front of the Royal Theatre Carré in Amsterdam was almost a kilometer long, and the waiting time was over two hours for mourners who had come to pay tribute to renowned Dutch crime reporter Peter R de Vries. The 64-year-old journalist had been shot in the evening of July 6, only moments after leaving a TV studio where he had participated in a talk show. He died in hospital nine days later.

The details behind the murder are still unknown, but the office of public prosecution has suggested a link to de Vries’ role in the so-called Marengo trial, a criminal case against leading members of a criminal organization involved in drug trafficking. De Vries had been acting as advisor to Nabil B., a former member who is testifying against Ridouan Taghi, the principal suspect in the trial.

Following the deadly attack on De Vries and threats made against the TV program, the studio moved its broadcasting to a different location outside of Amsterdam. In recent years, organized crime has been linked to threats made against other media outlets and crime reporters in the Netherlands.

In June 2018, the Amsterdam offices of leading Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf was attacked when a van repeatedly rammed the paper’s entrance before been set on fire by the driver. In the same month, the editorial offices of weekly Panorama were attacked with an anti-tank weapon. Perpetrators were convicted to prison sentences, but the exact background of the attacks remains unclear.

The killing of de Vries comes at a time when the media in the Netherlands are under increasing pressure. For the moment, the country still ranks high on international freedom of expression lists. However, the Netherlands witnessed a clear drop on the World Press Freedom Index last year.

Last year, Dutch public broadcaster NOS decided to scrub its well-known logo from satellite busses and other equipment amidst a rise in attacks on the station’s journalists reporting from anti-government demonstrations, often related to protests against the Dutch government’s Covid-19 measures. The decision came as a shock to large parts of the Dutch public.

However, many of the county’s journalists were less surprised because they had experienced the increasingly hostile environment themselves. NOS editor-in-chief Marcel Gelauff warned in a statement after the decision to forego the station logo: “Journalism is under attack of people who only want to see their own world[view], trying to impede other perspectives, hence harming press freedom.”

Increasing attacks on journalists

The global Covid-19 pandemic has also put the issue of rising violence against journalists in stark relief. Hate speech and attacks on journalists are increasing. During nationwide riots following the government’s announcement of evening curfews, stones were thrown at photographers, and camera crews were violently attacked. At a Covid-19 testing facility in the town of Urk, a NOS reporter and his bodyguard were attacked with pepper spray.

The recent outburst of physical violence towards journalists is unprecedented, but attacks have already become the norm online. Clarice Gargard, a columnist for daily NRC and founder of the feminist platform Lilith Magazine, received thousands of hate messages during the live registration of an anti-Black Pete demonstration in 2018. Gargard reported the messages to the police which eventually led to the convictions of several of the people behind the threats, who were fined or were sentenced to several hours of community service.

Several politicians in the rightwing opposition have joined the fray and publicly lashed out against the media. Leader of the far-right Freedom Party (PVV) Geert Wilders called journalists ‘riffraff’ (‘Tuig van de Richel”) in a Tweet. Thierry Baudet, leader of the far-right Forum for Democracy (FvD) repeatedly attacked the media as well, for example by repeatedly calling broadcaster NOS ‘fake news’.

In reaction to the increasing difficulties Dutch journalists are facing, the local journalist’s union NVJ, the Institute of editors-in-chief, in cooperation with the public prosecutor and the Dutch police established a joint initiative called PersVeilig (“Safe Press”) in 2019. One of the main goals of the initiative is to train and advise journalists on how to react to threats and, if necessary, to prioritize court cases against perpetrators. In the first seven months of this year, PersVeilig received 176 cases resulting in 41 reports to the police, versus 121 over the entire last year.

While the Dutch government often stresses the importance of a free press, it has been accused of playing an active role in the stifling the work of the media by preventing access to crucial state documents, something public authorities are legally bound to facilitate under the freedom of information act (Dutch: Wet Openbaarheid Bestuur, WOB). Often documents which are released arrive late and are incomplete. Sometimes they are not released at all.

Earlier this year, the government was forced to resign over a childcare subsidies scandal, in which the government withheld crucial information to press and parliament, allowing state misconduct to continue, at great human cost to the victims who in some cases lost their livelihoods.

In the cabinet’s resignation, prime-minister Mark Rutte, promised ‘a new governance culture’, and ‘more transparency’. But old habits die hard. Recently, the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS) lost a court case against current affairs program Nieuwsuur. The journalists had demanded access to state documents regarding the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, instead of putting the caretaker prime minister’s promise of more transparency into practice, the ministry defied the court and refused to provide the requested documents, appealing the court order instead.

Compared to their colleagues in many other countries of the world, journalists in the Netherlands are able to freely investigate and work. However, as the events of the past few years have shown, a sense of deteriorating safety for the media is a slippery slope even in a country that until recently led international press freedom rankings.

This article is part of IPI’s reporting series “Media freedom in Europe in the shadow of Covid”, which comprises news and analysis from IPI’s network of correspondents throughout the EU. Articles do not necessarily reflect the views of IPI or MFRR. This reporting series is supported by funding from the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom and by the European Commission (DG Connect) as part of the Media Freedom Rapid Response, 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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Netherlands: IPI condemns arrest of three journalists covering climate…

Netherlands: IPI condemns arrest of three journalists covering climate protest

Dutch police question journalists’ identity despite possession of press cards

The IPI global network today expresses serious concern over the arrest of three Dutch journalists this week who were covering daily Extinction Rebellion (XR) protests in The Hague. IPI urges the police to use extreme caution while interrogating or arresting journalists at protests, especially when they have press identification.

On October 13, two Dutch journalists were arrested for covering an Extinction Rebellion protest in The Hague. One was Hans Nijenhuis, the former editor-in-chief of the national newspaper Algemeen Dagblad (AD), the newspaper reported on its website. The two had been accompanying XR activists that day as part of a story on the protests.

Police intercepted the group as they were travelling in cars to the area where they planned to block a main road and arrested 25 people. Nijenhuis and his colleague, photojournalist Marco de Swart, who were with the group at the time, were taken to the police station for further investigation. De Swart’s camera equipment was confiscated.

Despite the fact that both journalists were both in possession of the press card issued by the Dutch Association of Journalists (NVJ), and told police they were there in a professional capacity, the police claimed they had to carry out an additional identity check at the station. According to the Dutch police, the two did “present themselves as journalists”. “However we wanted to confirm their identity, which happened at the office”, a police communication officer told IPI. Both were released after two hours.

On Monday, Volkskrant journalist Mac van Dinther was detained and held for four hours for covering a similar XR protest in The Hague, which was part of “The Week of Climate Rebellion’. A police officer had obstructed Van Dinther from reporting on a violent arrest, which the journalist had allegedly called “childish”. The officer then pushed Van Dinther against a police vehicle and forcibly arrested him for allegedly insulting a police officer and refusing to cooperate.

At the time he was wearing a press card around his neck, but the officer did not believe him, reportedly saying “anyone can say they are a journalist”. He was detained The Public Prosecution Service dropped the case against the journalist but continues to justify the arrest. Van Dinther was released that same evening.

“These arrests by Dutch police are a violation of journalists’ right to report on a matter of public interest”, IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen said. “Police have a responsibility to use extreme caution while interrogating or arresting journalists at protests. All three of these arrests appear to have been unjustified. It is also concerning that officers refused to accept officially licensed press cards and instead hauled two journalists off the street to the police station for additional checks. When it became clear they were journalists, they should have been released immediately. Their arrests resulted in direct interference and obstruction of their reporting.”

“The arrest is very wrong”, Milen van Boldrik, Secretary of the NVJ, said of the arrests on Wednesday. “The journalists called me during the arrest and the police summoned him to end the call, but by that time I knew enough”, she told IPI.

“Journalists should be free to execute their job”, Van Boldrik continued. “They should not be taken to the police office for their identity to be checked. We give out these press cards as a proof of their identity as a journalist. We do a back-up check, and this should be enough. We see that higher officers usually understand this, but local police officers do not always take the press card seriously.” The journalists have been released and will file a complaint against the police together with the NVJ.

A large group of young people pelts the police present with stones and fireworks in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 25 January 2021. EPA-EFE / Killian Lindenburg / MediaTV Library

Netherlands should better protect privacy of freelance journalists

Netherlands should better protect privacy of freelance journalists

Despite new regulations, personal information of freelance journalists still accessible via Dutch Chamber of Commerce, potentially risking journalists safety

IPI Contributor Anne ter Rele

A little more than two years ago, a stone was thrown through Chris Klomp’s window by an anonymous perpetrator. Although Klomp, a freelance Dutch journalist who is very active on social media, had received many online threats before in his 20-year career, it was the first time someone actually came to his house and used physical violence.

Klomp also found a letter tied to his door, threatening that if the journalist did not remove all his social media accounts, the perpetrator “would come back”. “After that happened, I received an emergency button that brings me in immediate contact with a private security company when needed”, Klomp told IPI. “I always carry it with me.”

Finding Klomp’s home was relatively easy for the perpetrators, as his business is registered with the Dutch Chamber of Commerce (KVK), which is mandatory for all companies, including freelance journalists. Registration includes the company’s address, but also home addresses of the owners, phone numbers and VAT tax numbers. Despite criticism, the chamber has been legally allowed to sell this information to third parties, regardless if a company prefers this or not.

The publication of the information has long been criticized by Dutch opinion makers and journalists, since it means they can be easily traced to their homes and threatened there. Derk Wiersum, a Dutch lawyer, was murdered for doing his job in 2019. His address was found via the database of the Chamber of Commerce.

“There is a real threat for journalists to experience violence in their personal homes”, Peter ter Velde, coordinator of the journalists’ safety project PersVeilig, told IPI. According to Thomas Bruning, secretary of the Dutch journalists’ association NVJ, reports of intimidation against journalists have doubled the past year. “This shows: you can say the threats are just online, until they aren’t”, Ter Velde added.

The fact that the Dutch Chamber of Commerce does not protect home addresses creates a feeling of danger, Klomp said. “People will simply look for you at the Chamber of Commerce and they know where you live. It’s scary. I receive many online threats. But you never know when they will actually stop by.”

Changing the mandatory registration of freelancers’ home addresses has been on the Dutch political agenda for the last couple of months, following renewed criticism from politicians, journalists and opinion makers.

Now, change is on its way. From 2022 onwards, the Dutch Council of Ministers agreed that third parties can no longer access freelancers’ personal information anymore, such as home addresses and phone numbers: only government organizations can still access this. The decision was long overdue, as the Dutch parliament had already accepted several resolutions to hide freelancers’ personal information in January 2021, but the responsible secretary of state refused to implement the resolution in practice, stating it would contradict EU law.

Now, ministers have decided to protect personal information but not the company’s information. “A step in the right direction, but far from enough”, Bruning responded. He emphasized that companies’ addresses will still be accessible to all. For freelancers, this is a problem, since their companies are mostly registered at their home addresses. “Only when freelancers hire an office this can be avoided, but not all freelancers want this or can afford this”, Bruning explained. Freelance journalists therefore remain vulnerable, even under the new law.

Compromise

After previous discussions on the safety of freelancers, two years ago the journalists’ association arranged that Dutch freelancers can register the NVJ address as their company address, but only after individual journalists request this. “Especially after the debate in Dutch parliament the number of freelancers who came to us has grown”, Bruning explained.

Currently, around 50 journalists have registered the NVJ address at the Dutch Chamber of Commerce. Klomp is one of them. Although the number of requests usually rises after parliamentary debates on the issue, Bruning explained, the exception is specifically targeted at freelancers who experience threats or intimidation. Registration in advance is not always possible.

It is therefore a temporary solution, Bruning emphasized. “This measure is far from optimal”, he said. “It does not tackle the most fundamental problem: that it cannot be arranged preventively: journalists need to experience fear, threats or intimidation, physical or online. But then you are, in fact, too late. Those with bad intentions may have already succeeded in finding you. And when that information is on the internet, it is not easy to remove it afterwards.”

After the stone broke through his window, Klomp has increased security around his house, adding cameras. “I have thick skin, I can handle some negative comments and online intimidations. But the fact that people could find out where I live is scarysince you don’t know when online harassers will actually come to your house, like they did before.”

This article is part of IPI’s reporting series “Media freedom in Europe in the shadow of Covid”, which comprises news and analysis from IPI’s network of correspondents throughout the EU. Articles do not necessarily reflect the views of IPI or MFRR. This reporting series is supported by funding from the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom and by the European Commission (DG Connect) as part of the Media Freedom Rapid Response, 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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MFRR urges swift police action over Molotov cocktail attack…

MFRR urges swift police action over Molotov cocktail attack on home of Dutch journalist

The undersigned organisations of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) today express serious concern over the Molotov cocktail attack on the home of journalist Willem Groeneveld in Groningen last night. We welcome the prompt response of the Dutch authorities to carry out a police investigation. Our organisations call on the authorities to analyse the safety measures that were in place, to establish the motive of the attack and to bring those responsible to justice.

Coming so soon after the fatal shooting of Dutch crime reporter Peter R. de Vries in Amsterdam in July, this potential attempted murder represents another serious attack on media freedom in the Netherlands. This requires a swift response to protect the safety of journalists. We urge the Dutch authorities to address this broader trend by starting a rigorous investigation into the circumstances and factors behind the recent increase in attacks on journalists within the country.

At around 2.45am on the night of 18-19 August, multiple Molotov cocktails were thrown through a window into Groeneveld’s apartment. After he and his partner awoke to the sound of smashing glass, they were able to extinguish the flames and no one was injured. The journalist said “several” explosives were thrown.

The identity of the attacker or attackers is currently unknown and police are currently analysing CCTV footage and speaking with witnesses. No indication of the motive or whether it was connected to Groeneveld’s journalistic work has yet been established by the authorities.

In recent months, Groeneveld, who is the founder and editor-in-chief of Sikkom, a youth platform that publishes news and investigative journalism about the city of Groningen, has faced pressure and intimidation over his reporting on local landlords and other issues. He is also a contributor to Dagblad van het Noorden, a daily newspaper.

In 2019, five stones were thrown through the windows of his Groningen home and in June Groningen city council denounced intimidation of the journalist by a local real estate entrepreneur. Bicycles were dumped in front of his house in response to an article he wrote and his address and phone number then appeared on Facebook, a practice known as “doxing”. Whether the doxing is connected to the attack remains unclear. Groeneveld had been receiving police protection for a while when the Molotov cocktail hit his house.

Thomas Bruning, the general secretary of the Dutch Association of Journalists (NVJ) is right; the nature of this incident means authorities must consider treating it as attempted murder. It is an attack on Willem Groeneveld, but also the entire Dutch journalistic community. This is even more concerning considering the Netherlands is ranked among the best countries in the world for the freedom of the press.

It is vital therefore that the Netherlands lead by example. The MFRR have reported the issue to the Council of Europe’s Platform for the Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists and the Mapping Media Freedom platform will continue to monitor this case closely.

Signed by:

  • Article 19
  • European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
  • European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)
  • Free Press Unlimited (FPU)
  • International Press Institute (IPI)
  • Osservatorio Balcani e 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 and Candidate Countries.

Peter R. de Vries (Photo: DWDD) Library

Death of Dutch journalist Peter de Vries a sad…

Death of Dutch journalist Peter de Vries a sad day for Europe

IPI expresses sorrow at loss of courageous crime reporter

The IPI global network for press freedom today expressed deep sorrow over the death of Dutch crime journalist Peter R. de Vries and renewed calls for all those responsible for his murder to be held accountable.

de Vries, 64, had been fighting for his life in hospital after being shot five times including once in the head in the center of Amsterdam at around 7.45pm on July 6. He passed away surrounded by loved ones, according to a statement by his family.

“The death of Peter R. de Vries is yet another heartbreaking moment for Europe’s entire journalistic community”, IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen said. “Our thoughts go out to his family and friends, with whom we stand in full solidarity and support. Peter was a respected and fearless crime reporter who spent his career exposing criminal acts and fighting to ensure those responsible faced justice. He was a committed servant of the truth, who was determined to ensure that even the oldest crime could not go cold. It is vital that Dutch authorities now show the same exhaustless energy in investigating, prosecuting and convicting all those behind his own murder.

“Tragically, this is the second time this year that a crime journalist has been gunned down in broad daylight in the European Union. This killing illustrates a sad reality: that even journalists working in a country with one of the highest levels of press freedom in the world are not safe. All EU governments must do more to stem the tide of attacks on journalists that we’ve seen over the last few years. Ultimately, ending impunity for those who dare carry out these crimes is one of the most effective ways to do so.

“Sadly however, those behind the murder of Greek crime journalist Giorgios Karaivaz in April remain at large. While some of the gunmen and middlemen in the assassinations of Slovak journalist Jan Kuciak and Maltese investigative reporter Daphne Caruana Galizia have been convicted, those who ultimately ordered their deaths continue to evade justice. Those behind this heinous attack on Peter cannot be allowed to do likewise.”

In a statement, his family said: “Peter fought to the end but was unable to win the battle. He died surrounded by the people who love him. Peter lived by his conviction: ‘On bended knee is no way to be free.’”.

Peter R. de Vries (Photo: DWDD) Library

Dutch journalist Peter R. de Vries dies after shooting

Dutch journalist Peter R. de Vries dies after shooting

Update (15/07/2021) Peter R. de Vries passed away on 15 July 2021, RTL announced on Twitter. 

Dutch journalist Peter R. de Vries is fighting for his life in hospital after being shot five times in Lange Leidsedwars street in Amsterdam yesterday evening at around 7.30. The police has arrested three suspects. The European and International Federations of Journalists (EFJ/IFJ) condemned the murder attempt as another tragic blow to press freedom in Europe.

On Tuesday evening, Peter R. de Vries was a guest on daily television programme RTL Boulevard. After leaving the building, he was shot several times at close range, including in the head, in a side street of the studio. Amsterdam’s mayor Femke Halsema told a press conference that the investigative journalist was “fighting for his life.” The police have arrested three suspects.

Peter R. de Vries (64) is a well-known Dutch investigative journalist who covered high-profile criminal investigation. He worked for De Telegraaf, Panorama magazine, Algemeen Dagblad and ran his own crime programme on television. He won an international Emmy Award in 2008 for his work investigating the 2006 disappearance of teenager Natalee Holloway in Aruba.

According to media reports, De Vries has been threatened in the past and was granted police protection. In 2019, he said on Twitter  that he would be on a death list. He has been acting as a counselor to a state witness testifying in the case against Ridouan Taghi, suspected of murder and drug trafficking.

The General Secretary of the Dutch Journalists’ Association (NVJ) Thomas Bruning said: “This hits journalism right in the heart. Of course, it remains to be seen what De Vries’ activities are related to, but the attack took place outside RTL Boulevard. De Vries is a fierce crimefighter, persistent and courageous. We can only hope he survives.”

EFJ President Mogens Blicher Bjerregard said: “I send my thoughts to Peter and expect an immediate investigation bringing the masterminds of this awful attack to justice. Enabling and protecting the crucial work of (investigative) journalists to deal with crime and other essential issues is key for any democracy.”

The EFJ had recently alerted over the escalation of violence against media professionals with an increase in attacks since last year and repeatedly called on the Dutch authorities to do the utmost to protect journalists and investigate all attacks.

IFJ President Younes MJahed said: “We are shocked by this attack against a journalist who has reported extensively on matters of public concerns and has taken huge risks to tell the truth. This is an attack on press freedom and we urge authorities to swiftly investigate this case. Our thoughts are with Peter, his family and friends.”