The EU must take the lead in protecting journalists worldwide, say MEPs

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The EU should take the lead in ensuring the protection of journalists, said foreign affairs MEPs in a vote on Tuesday. The independent press, a watchdog for democracy, is suffering increasing harassment, with journalists being persecuted and imprisoned, they warn, stressing the need to combat impunity for threats and attacks against journalists.

MEPs point out that governments have the primary responsibility for protecting the freedom of the press and media but also bear the prime responsibility for restricting it. They stress that legal pressure, intimidation, fines or blocking orders affecting online content and services constitute means for public authorities to hamper freedom of expression and the editorial independence of journalists.

Combating impunity

The EU must take a tougher stand against countries that allow acts of violence, murders and abuse of journalists to go unpunished, MEPs insist.. They warn that impunity not only has an impact on press freedom, but also instils a climate of fear and self-censorship and they call on all states to guarantee the safety of journalists.

Defamation, blasphemy, libel and other laws are used to criminalise expression and to imprison or censor journalists, MEPs say. They call for the immediate release of journalists and bloggers wrongfully imprisoned because of their work.

Increase transparency

MEPs are concerned about mass surveillance, mass censoring and blocking and filtering tendencies affecting the media and the work of journalists and bloggers. They stress that the digital and data-driven platforms or services such as search engines need more transparency to prevent restrictions on access to information and freedom of expression.

The resolution also stresses that the public value of information must be preserved by market regulators since self-regulation entails risks where democratic oversight is lacking. Here to read more.

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