Index on Censorship’s database tracking violations of press freedom recorded 571 verified threats and limitations to media freedom during the first two quarters of 2017.
During the first six months of the year: three journalists were murdered in Russia; 155 media workers were detained or arrested; 78 journalists were assaulted; 188 incidents of intimidation, which includes psychological abuse, sexual harassment, trolling/cyberbullying and defamation, were documented; 91 criminal charges and civil lawsuits were filed; journalists and media outlets were blocked from reporting 91 times; 55 legal measures were passed that could curtail press freedom; and 43 pieces of content were censored or altered.
“The incidents reported to the Mapping Media Freedom in the first half of 2017 tell us that the task of keeping the public informed is becoming much harder and more dangerous for journalists. Even in countries with a tradition of press freedom journalists have been harassed and targeted by actors from across the political spectrum. Governments and law enforcement must redouble efforts to battle impunity and ensure fair treatment of journalists,” Hannah Machlin, Mapping Media Freedom project manager, said.
During the first quarter the MMF database registered several trends that can be recognised as acute challenges to media freedom. A total of 299 incidents were reported to the project by MMF correspondents and other journalists between 1 January and 31 March 2017.
Some European governments clearly interfered with media pluralism. Other governments harassed, intimidated and detained journalists. The net effect of these interventions have been to debase and devalue the work of the press and undermine a basic foundation of democracy.
Throughout Q1: one journalist was murdered; 42 incidents of assault were confirmed; there were 89 verified reports of intimidation; media professionals were detained in 69 incidents; 38 criminal charges and civil lawsuits were filed; and journalists were barred from reporting in 54 verified incidents.
The crackdown on media freedom throughout Europe — even within those countries perceived to be more democratic — continued in Q2 2017. A total of 272 incidents were reported to the project by MMF correspondents and other journalists between 1 April and 30 June 2017.
While the number of reports recorded during the second quarter declined nearly 10 per cent from the first quarter, this does not indicate an improvement in the overall state of media freedom. The situation for journalists across Europe remained extremely concerning. For example, the number of arrests decreased during the quarter, but hundreds of journalists were in detention or were forced into exile. In addition, based on the severity of the second quarter reports, inhumane treatment of media workers actually increased.
Throughout Q2: two journalists were killed; 36 incidents of physical assault and injury were reported; 53 criminal charges and civil lawsuits were filed; 99 instances of intimidation, which includes psychological abuse, sexual harassment, trolling/cyberbullying and defamation, took place; journalists were blocked from covering stories 54 times; 20 legal measures were passed that curtail press freedom; and 19 works were censored/altered by the state or editorial teams.
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For further information, please contact Hannah Machlin, project manager, Mapping Media Freedom on [email protected]
About Mapping Media Freedom
Mapping Media Freedom – an Index on Censorship-lead project with partner European Federation of Journalists and Turkey-based P24, Platform for Independent Journalism, partially funded by the European Commission – covers 42 countries, including all EU member states, plus Bosnia, Iceland, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Norway, Serbia, Turkey, Albania along with Ukraine, Belarus and Russia and Azerbaijan. The platform was launched in May 2014 and has recorded over 3,300 incidents threatening media freedom by the end of Q2 2017.
Search reported incidents throughout Europe at https://mappingmediafreedom.org.