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Press Cartoonists in Europe must be protected

Press Cartoonists in Europe must be protected

Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) partners call for press cartoonists to be protected to ensure they can realise their right to free expression across Europe

In recent years, press cartoonists have come under increasing threat for their work scrutinising and satirising those in power. This statement signed by MFRR partners and Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI) and Cartooning for Peace calls on all cartoonists to be protected to ensure they can realise their rights to free expression

Italian Constitutional Court Library

MFRR welcomes the step forward by Italian Constitutional Court…

Progress in Italy to abolish prison sentences for criminal defamation

The Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) welcomes the decision by the Italian Constitutional Court to refer a decision on whether to abolish prison sentences for criminal defamation in relation to journalists and media workers to the Italian Parliament.

Following the MFRR statement of 5th June, the Italian Constitutional Court held a public hearing into the constitutional legitimacy of Article 595 of the penal code and Article 13 of the law on the press, which allows for prison sentences to be passed down to journalists in relation to criminal defamation cases. On Tuesday 9th June the Court ruled that while reform was necessary, it was the responsibility of Parliament to amend the legislation. This effectively postponed the Court’s decision for one year, stipulating that if Parliament has not passed legislation to amend the law by 22 June 2021, then the Court itself will abolish prison sentences. As part of this process, the Court has temporarily suspended prison sentences for journalists convicted of criminal defamation. This applies to both ongoing criminal proceedings and all pending cases.

The MFRR partners cautiously welcomed this ruling as part of a larger reform of both criminal and civil defamation in Italy.

Italian Constitutional Court Library

Italy criminal defamation as part of wider legislative reform

Italy: Abolish prison sentences for criminal defamation as part of wider reform

MFRR partners call for the abolition of prison sentences for criminal defamation as part of necessary and overdue legislative reform.

On 9 June there will be a public hearing at the Italian Constitutional Court into the legitimacy of laws that allow for jail sentences for journalists convicted of defamation. MFRR partners call for the abolition of prison sentences for criminal defamation as part of wider legislative reform that is needed to also strengthen civil defamation protections. This would ensure journalists and media workers are able to report and carry out their work free from the threats of legal actions that could result in imprisonment or severe financial penalties.
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Czech Republic follow up public service TV

Czech Republic: Preserve the Freedom and Independence of Public Service TV

Members of MFRR follow up with Members of Parliament in Czech Republic in relation to the composition of the Council of Czech TV (Česká televize) 

Representatives of the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), International Press Institute (IPI) and the Syndicate of Journalists of Czech Republic have sent a letter to Members of Parliament in the Czech Republic to raise concerns that the composition of the Council of Czech TV (Česká televize) cannot be considered impartial or balanced between political groups.

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Growing hostility leads to attacks on RTV journalists in…

Growing hostility leads to attacks on RTV journalists in Slovenia

IPI calls on government of Janez Janša to lead the way in reducing insults and threats.

The International Press Institute (IPI) expressed its growing concern about the increasing climate of hostility towards journalists and executives at Slovenia’s public broadcaster Radiotelevizija Slovenija (RTVS). Its statement highlights recent attacks and incidents of harassment and calls on the members of the new government led by Prime Minister Janez Janša to stop its efforts to undermine the integrity, independence and public trust in Slovenia’s public broadcaster, and instead work to defuse tensions.

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Threats against journalists in Northern Ireland must stop

Threats against journalists in Northern Ireland must stop

A number of journalists from Sunday World and Sunday Life were warned of credible threats from dissident loyalists, which included threats of violence against their colleagues and a threat of a car bomb.

Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) partners, press freedom and freedom of expression organisations, journalists’ organisations, journalists and media workers condemn these threats, call for those behind the threats to be brought to justice and increased protections for the journalists to be able to continue their work free from threats of violence.

UPDATE: On 9th June 2020, the MFRR received a response from Naomi Long MLA, the Minister of Justice in the Northern Ireland Executive. Read her response below

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IPI urges inquiry into arrest of investigative journalist in…

IPI urges inquiry into arrest of investigative journalist in Bulgaria

Calls for scrutiny following claims drug charges were fabricated

The International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists for press freedom, today urged Bulgarian authorities to investigate the arrest of Bulgarian freelance journalist Dimiter Petzov following claims the arrest was staged to intimidate him.

Petzov, an award-winning investigative journalist focusing on local corruption in Bulgaria, was arrested on May 2 on charges of illegal drug possession. He was detained for 24 hours after local police officers allegedly found 11.7 grams of ecstasy, 7.2 grams of heroin, 13 grams of amphetamine and 7.2 grams of cannabis in his car, according to news reports.

Petzov has questioned the legitimacy of his arrest and accused the local authorities of framing him. In an interview for dnevnik.bg on May 6, he claimed that his arrest was baseless, carried out without presence of witnesses, and added that he suspected it was related to a story he had previously written. He also denied having obtained drugs or suffering from an addiction.

In 2017, Petzov was awarded the Golden Key award for his contribution to freedom of information. He has also been an associate of the Anti-Corruption Fund in Bulgaria for two years.

Intimidation and interference with the work of independent and investigative journalists is not uncommon in Bulgaria. According to an IPI analysis published earlier this year, critical journalists in Bulgaria have faced legal harassment and smear campaigns in retaliation for their work. In March, IPI reported on the case of a newspaper editor left unconscious after being beaten with metal pipes. In 2018, Petzov himself suffered a broken arm when he attacked at his home by an unknown man armed with a metal pipe.

“We urge Bulgarian authorities to clarify the circumstances related to the arrest of Dimiter Petzov through a speedy and transparent investigation”, IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen said. “Should the investigation confirm fears that his arrest was staged or manipulated, those responsible must be held to account. The harassment of investigative journalists represents a serious attack on the public’s right to information.”

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IPI condemns arrest of journalist covering protest in Montenegro

IPI condemns arrest of journalist covering protest in Montenegro

Authorities must ensure journalists are able to cover protests safely

The International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists for press freedom, today condemned the detention of Montenegrin journalist Veliša Kadić and called on authorities to ensure media workers can cover protests freely and securely. 

Kadić, a correspondent for the Serbian media company Večernje Novosti, was detained while covering protests in the city of Nikšić that occurred on May 13 in response to the arrest of a priest belonging to the Serbian Orthodox Church.

After being released from custody, the journalist told media he was detained while taking a cellphone video of police officers trying to restrain a young man participating in protest who was resisting arrest.

Kadić claims officers from the Montenegrin police force demanded he delete the video footage and then pepper sprayed him in the face before arresting him. During the incident, Kadić was identified as a journalist there in his professional capacity.

He was taken to a police station but required an ambulance to be called for medical assistance due to the pain from the pepper spray. Kadić was held for several hours before being released later that night.

“This is a harsh violation and censorship of journalist’s work, which is, unfortunately, only an extension of brutal behavior of public authorities towards journalists and media freedom in this country”, Milka Tadić Mijović, director of the Center for Investigative Journalism in Montenegro, told IPI.

The head of the Nikšić Security Center, Tihomir Goranović, said he was aware of the case and confirmed police were investigating the circumstances of the arrest and the officers involved.

The arrest exemplifies a wider trend exhibiting increased use of violence against journalists covering protests in Europe in the last few months.

“The arrest of Veliša Kadić in Montenegro is greatly concerning, especially at a moment in which we are witnessing similar incidents happening all across Europe”, IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen said. “We call on authorities in Montenegro to ensure that all journalists and media workers are able to work freely and inform the public about protests or demonstrations without fear of attack or detention.”

The Association of Journalists of Serbia (UNS) also condemned the arrest and called for action to be taken against the officers involved. 

Dozens of people were arrested as police attempted to break up the demonstration, according to Montenegrin daily newspaper Vijesti. Twenty-two police officers were also injured.