Democracy and Governance, Governance, Human Rights
A mission to inform – Journalists at risk speak out (2020)
Police intimidation, legal harassment, defamation and intimidation campaigns offline and increasingly online, pressure – economic or otherwise – from editors or media owners and sponsors, detentions, threats and physical violence: journalists are constantly exposed to these threats by those who feel threatened by their work.
The murder of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in October 2017 sent shock waves through Europe. Violence and acts of harassment against journalists have become alarmingly frequent, as was laid bare in the Council of Europe’s 2017 survey of 940 journalists across the continent.
This follow-up study is about the human cost to journalists who seek to hold the powerful to account. It is based on in-depth interviews with 20 journalists who use their reporting skills to expose corruption, injustice and abuses, often putting their safety at risk. They share their insights into the realities of practising cutting-edge journalism while facing aggression, intimidation and vicious cyber-attacks. Too often the necessary protections fail and crimes against journalists go unpunished.
The freedom of the media to report without censorship or fear of reprisals is an essential pre-condition of democratic societies. This study represents a call for action to the 47 member states of the Council of Europe, with practical and forward-looking recommendations for ways to establish effective protection for journalists to enable them to safely fulfil their vital public watchdog role.