Group of Friends on the Safety of Journalists and Media Freedom in Strasbourg

World Press Freedom Day 2022

1. On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, we express our unwavering support for a free, independent and safe press and commend the work of journalists and other media workers who keep us informed in these challenging times.

We pay special tribute to those who lost their lives and the families who mourn their loss. We stand with those illegally detained, injured or abused as a result of their profession.

2. We are alarmed by the situation described in the Annual Report by the Partner Organisations to the Council of Europe Platform to promote the Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists, published on 27 April. The report gives a disturbing overview of alerts and sources of major concern in 2021 across the Council of Europe region and counts no fewer than 282 alerts, among them eighty-two attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists. In 2021 six journalists were killed in
Europe in the exercise of their profession. At the end of December 2021, fifty-six journalists and media actors were in prison in Council of Europe member States. Thirty-five impunity cases have been registered since 2015.

3. Recalling our statement of 16 March on Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and assault on the safety of journalists and media freedom, we unequivocally condemn the Russian Federation for the deliberate attacks, killings, reprisals and violence against journalists and other media workers and the deliberate targeting of media infrastructure in Ukraine. We condemn the longstanding use of coordinated, state-sponsored disinformation campaigns, notably against Ukraine, and for adopting draconical legislation that unduly restricts media freedom and the possibility for journalists and other media workers to independently carry out their vital work. Russia must cease those practices immediately.

4. We strongly affirm that the work of a free, independent and impartial media online and offline constitutes one of the essential foundations of a democratic society, and thereby contributes to the protection of civilians.

5. Against this background, we welcome the commitment of the Partner Organisations to the Platform for documenting all attacks against journalists and other attempts to restrict journalists’ and other media workers’ ability to report about the war. Furthermore, we welcome their decision to continue publishing about further backlash against media freedom and the safety of journalists in the Russian Federation.

6. We encourage all member States to engage constructively with the Council of Europe and the Platform, including by responding with follow-up to alerts and by taking effective remedial actions.
Furthermore, we call upon all member States to support journalists and other media workers covering the war in Ukraine, promote the safety of journalists and other media
workers, and combat impunity for crimes committed against them.

7. We encourage the Presidency of the Committee of Ministers to put the annual report of the Platform and its recommendations on the Committee of Ministers agenda which would provide an opportunity to address the alarming situation of journalists and other media workers in Europe.

8. We emphasize again the importance of Recommendation CM/Rec(2022)4 of the Committee of Ministers on promoting a favourable environment for quality journalism in the digital age and the Resolution on the safety of journalists, adopted on the occasion of the Conference of Ministers responsible for Media and Information Society on 11 June 2021.

9. We remain committed to promoting media freedom and a safe and enabling environment for journalists and other media workers to perform their work independently and without undue interference. 

The Group of Friends on the Safety of Journalists and Media Freedom in Strasbourg consists of the following member States of the Council of Europe:
Austria, France, Greece, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

In addition to the above-mentioned eleven countries, the following Council of Europe member States align with this statement:

Albania, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Malta, Republic of Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine.