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A report on threats against media freedom in Europe

Threats against media freedom increasing in EU and candidate countries

813 media freedom violations were reported in 2022 in EU Member States and candidate countries, a report from Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) shows. In 2021, the MFRR recorded 654 alerts but Ukraine and Moldova were not included 2021. 

“While overall Europe continues to be one of the safest places in the world to be a journalist and legal frameworks for free and independent journalism in EU states remain relatively strong, emerging threats to media and journalists by mercenary spyware and increasing pressures from SLAPPs (lawsuits to silence critics) and online attacks continue to create serious challenges for media freedom on the continent.” 

The report is produced by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), the International Press Institute (IPI), and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ).

Read Also:  Complexity of freedom of expression

“Media freedom in Europe in 2022 was overshadowed by Russia‘s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, which started on 24 February. During the first 10 months of the war, nine journalists lost their lives working on the ground, and many more were injured and attacked while reporting from front lines”, the report says.

“The conflict has cast a dark shadow over press freedom in Europe, a continent where reporters were already facing attacks that hindered their ability to work freely.

Key findings: 

  • 813 media freedom violations were recorded in EU Member States and candidate countries, involving 1,339 individuals or media outlets.
  • 415 alerts were recorded in the EU, while 398 were registered in candidate countries.
  • In the EU, the main type of incidents were verbal attacks (42.4% of all alerts), followed by legal attacks (27.2%)
  • While in 2021, protests were the most frequent place in which journalists were attacked (39.8%), 2022 data shows that protests only accounted for 21% of the alerts in the EU, while attacks taking place online rose from 14.1% in 2021 to 20.7% in 2022.
  • 10 journalists were murdered – nine in Ukraine and one in Turkey.
  • 140 media freedom violations were recorded in Ukraine, which amount to 17.2% of the total registered in all analysed countries in 2022. The MFRR started monitoring Ukraine immediately after the full-scale invasion.
  • 86 alerts involving online attacks were recorded in EU member states, ranging from harassment to disinformation campaigns.
  • Environmental reporting: 17 incidents (12 in the EU, 5 in Candidate Countries) during 2022 that took place while journalists were covering environmental issues, such as reporting on climate protests or investigating pollution in cities.

A thematic chapter in the report focuses on the threats faced by journalists covering climate and environmental topics (12 alerts in the EU in 2022) as these protests became more disruptive.
“Journalists covering these actions were subjected to obstruction of their work, and, in
some cases, suffered worrying legal consequences.”

Read Also:  War in Ukraine: documentation of attacks on journalists and media freedom

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