Press freedom groups call on Europe to stop region becoming unsafe for journalists to work in

‘A climate in which impunity prevails and in which journalists are only respected when they serve the interests of those in power, paves the way for violence’

Jan Kuciak and Daphne Caruana Galizia
Jan Kuciak and Daphne Caruana Galizia

17 organisations have written to European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker to take the lead in stepping up efforts to protect journalists within Europe.

The organisations, which include the International Federation of Journalists and Transparency International, conveyed their sadness at the recent killings of Slovak journalist Ján Kuciak and Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, and demanded that no further time is wasted on the investigations.

"We urge high-level officials from the European Commission to retain regular communication with senior police authorities in Slovakia and Malta to ensure that police investigations are full, thorough and independent.

"Moreover, the European Commission must take the lead and hold state officials and public figures to account for creating an environment in which the critical function of journalism is respected. State officials and public figures should consistently speak out in support of the critical function of journalism and support journalists when they are attacked. A climate in which impunity prevails and in which journalists are only respected when they serve the interests of those in power, paves the way for violence.

"These murders signal the urgent need to support civil society in the EU Member States in their efforts to fight impunity, and to document and promote accountability for violations of press freedom."

The assocications called on Juncker to ensure the European region does not become an environment where journalists are no longer safe to do their work.

"We call on the European Commission to work, as a priority, with Member States to begin the process of establishing national protection mechanisms for journalists in Europe.

"When journalists are killed, they are silenced and the public is deprived of their stories. In the cases of Ján Kuciak and Daphne Caruana Galizia stories about corruption, organized crime and abuse of power. Stories the people have a right to know about. Safety of journalists is a precondition for good journalism that serves the societies and audiences. Our European democracies cannot thrive when journalists are silenced and cannot inform people about important developments and hold power holders to account."

They also urged the EC to call on member states to implement without any delay their existing commitments to provide a safe, enabling environment for journalists. "We urge the European Commission to take the lead in stepping up their efforts to protect journalists within Europe. The undersigned organisations stand ready to support in such efforts. Your response to the killings of Ján Kuciak and Daphne Caruana Galizia will set a precedent for what is permissible in the European Union. A safe future for journalists in Europe is in your hands."

The organisations that signed the letter were ARTICLE 19, Committee to Protect Journalists, European Centre for Press and Media Freedom, European Federation of Journalists, European Journalism Centre, La Fundación para la Libertad de Prensa, Free Press Unlimited, Global Forum for Media Development, IFEX, International Federation of Journalists, Index on Censorship, International Media Support, International Press Institute, Rory Peck Trust, Reporters Without Borders, the Samir Kassir Foundation, and Transparency International.

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