World Press Freedom Day 2020

In a statement issued ahead of World Press Freedom Day on 3 May, Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić calls on governments to avoid unduly restricting media freedom during the COVID-19 crisis.

“Governments are facing unprecedented challenges during the COVID-19 crisis, but the situation must not be used to silence or hinder journalists,” said the Secretary General. “Media must be free to report on all aspects of the crisis. Journalists have a key role and a special responsibility for providing timely, accurate and reliable information to the public.”

The Secretary General also expressed her concern at the findings of the annual report of the Council of Europe’s Platform for the Protection of Journalism and the Safety of Journalists, compiled by 14 media freedom NGOs, highlighting a trend of violence and intimidation against journalists over the last year.

The Secretary General encouraged member states to protect the role of journalists as “watchdogs” and as an important part of the necessary checks and balances in democratic societies. 

The 2020 annual report of the Platform for the Protection of Journalism and the Safety of Journalists (“the Report”), lists 142 serious threats to journalists in the 47 Council of Europe member states. This includes 33 physical attacks against journalists, 17 new cases of detention and imprisonment, 43 cases of harassment and intimidation and two new cases of impunity for murder. The NGOs express concern over a total of 22 pending cases of impunity for the killing of journalists and state that at least 105 journalists were in prison by the end of 2019.

The Report includes includes Serbia as one of the countries in focus. The report states that the number of attacks on media in Serbia, including death threats, is on the rise, and inflammatory rhetoric often comes from public officials.

Here you can read the full Report:

References from the website of the Council of Europe