COVID-19 and press freedom: Europe must oppose measures proposed by Viktor Orbán

first_imgAssociation of European Journalists (AEJ) March 26, 2020 COVID-19 and press freedom: Europe must oppose measures proposed by Viktor Orbán Receive email alerts Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP Help by sharing this information Secondly, our organizations are also concerned about the proliferation of enhanced surveillance measures introduced to monitor the spread of the virus. While we understand the potential benefits, the use of surveillance must have proper oversight and be clearly limited to tackling the pandemic. Unchecked surveillance endangers privacy and data rights, while journalists’ ability to protect sources is undermined and self-censorship rises. News June 4, 2021 Find out more Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Index on Censorship Were this law to pass it would set a fearful precedent for other European Union member states tempted to follow Hungary’s example – troubling signs exist in other states as well – and do untold damage to fundamental rights and democracy as well as undermining efforts to end the pandemic. Follow the news on Europe – Central Asia 2.    Demand that governments ensure full access for media professionals to decision makers and actors on the front line of the health crisis as well as the broader workings of government, We are in the early stages of the pandemic where, for the most part, governments and media are cooperating closely as they struggle to respond to this unprecedented threat to public health. They both have a duty to ensure the public are fully informed and the response to the pandemic is as effective as possible. While we appreciate that certain emergency measures are needed to combat the pandemic, all such measures must be necessary, proportionate, strictly time-limited and subject to regular scrutiny, in order to solve the immediate health crisis. Unfortunately, numerous governments around the world are already using the pandemic to claim excessive powers that can undermine democratic institutions, including the free press. These dangerous developments could easily outlive the current health crisis unless we act urgently to stop them. Dear, 1.    Robustly oppose the measures currently before the Hungarian parliament and make it clear that the European Union will not accept the application of Emergency legislation that undermines fundamental human rights and media freedoms Our organizations are acutely aware of the dangers of disinformation and how it is used by unscrupulous groups to spread panic and division. However, this does not justify draconian powers that risk being used against journalists whose work is indispensable in protecting public health and ensuring accountability. Charles Michel, President of the European Council At the same time many governments are restricting access to officials by reducing the physical presence of journalists to press conferences. Slovenia and the Czech Republic for example announced ending them altogether. Such measures must not be allowed to restrict media scrutiny of government. June 7, 2021 Find out more 3.    Declare journalism and the free flow of information as essential to Europe’s efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic Kind Regards, It is little surprise that Hungary, with its record of undermining media freedom, should be the first EU member state to make such an extreme and opportunistic power grab. The few remaining independent media outlets in the country are regularly attacked and accused of spreading “fake news” for raising simple questions about the government’s preparedness and strategy for tackling the pandemic. If approved, this new law would grant the Hungarian government a convenient tool to threaten journalists and intimidate them into self-censorship. We fear this is a step toward the complete repression of media freedom in Hungary that could outlive the pandemic. In particular we ask you to We, the undersigned press freedom and freedom of expression organisations, are writing to express our profound concerns about the dangers of governments taking advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic to punish independent and critical media and to introduce restrictions on the access of media to government decision making and action. In a period when our citizens’ fundamental rights are being suspended around Europe, the need for media scrutiny to ensure no abuse of these new powers are stronger than ever. June 8, 2021 Find out morecenter_img Ursula Von der Leyen, President of the European Commission  ARTICLE 19 European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) Free Press Unlimited (FPU) David Sassoli, President of the European Parliament News Respect judicial independence in cases of two leading journalists in Serbia and Montenegro, RSF says “We’ll hold Ilham Aliyev personally responsible if anything happens to this blogger in France” RSF says to go further Organisation International Press Institute (IPI) HungarySloveniaCzech RepublicEurope – Central Asia Condemning abusesProtecting journalistsOnline freedomsMedia independenceProtecting sourcesInternational bodies Council of EuropeInternetFreedom of expressionEconomic pressureJudicial harassment Thirdly, our organizations are concerned about media access to government officials, decision makers, medical experts and those on the front line of the pandemic. Many countries have introduced restrictions on freedom of movement which we insist must not be used to prevent media from bearing witness to the crisis. RSF calls for a fully transparent investigation after mine kills two journalists in Azerbaijan However, we are acutely aware that as the crisis persists, the death toll mounts and as widespread job losses and a certain global recession loom, the actions and decisions of government will come under intense examination. The temptation for some governments to abuse new found emergency powers to stifle criticism will, in some cases, be overwhelming. This must not be allowed to happen. International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) The free flow of independent news is more essential than ever, both for informing the public on vital measures to contain the virus as well as in maintaining public scrutiny and debate on the adequacy of those measures. News This week, the Hungarian government is demanding an indefinite extension of the state of emergency and the power to impose prison sentences of up to five years on journalists and others for promoting false information related to COVID-19. News European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) Reporters Without Borders (RSF) joins eight other organisations for the defense of freedoms in order to express its profound concern about the risk that governments use the COVID-19 pandemic to undermine fundamental rights and free flow of information. The draft law discussed in Hungary is a step towards a complete repression of press freedom. Yet, the need for media scrutiny is now stronger than ever. In this respect we support the joint statement put out by the three global and regional special rapporteurs for freedom of expression, David Kaye (U.N.), Harlem Désir (OSCE) and Edison Lanza (OAS), that the “right to freedom of expression, ……, applies to everyone, everywhere, and may only be subject to narrow restrictions”. HungarySloveniaCzech RepublicEurope – Central Asia Condemning abusesProtecting journalistsOnline freedomsMedia independenceProtecting sourcesInternational bodies Council of EuropeInternetFreedom of expressionEconomic pressureJudicial harassment RSF_en We therefore call on you to use the power of your offices to ensure that fundamental human rights and press freedom will be guaranteed as the European Union strives to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.last_img

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