Every day journalists risk their lives to help inform us. Last year alone 66 journalists were killed, 119 kidnapped, 178 arrested and more 1800 of them attacked of threatened. Ahead of World Press Freedom Day on 3 May, we created an infographic based on the World Press Freedom Index put together by Reporters Without Borders, who won the Sakharov Prize in 2005. Read on to learn more about the situation today and what the Parliament is doing to help in EU and abroad.
Freedom of Press is considered an essential element of democracy by the European Parliament, which strongly supports it within the EU and beyond. Article 11 of the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights clearly states that “freedom and pluralism of the media shall be respected”.
The Parliament and media freedom
Four of the five best-ranking countries for media freedom are EU countries, yet this does not mean that Europe can afford to be complacent. Indeed, calling attention to the human rights situation in other countries has long been an important element of the Parliament’s contribution to the EU’s external relations.
Elena Valenciano, chair of the human rights subcommittee, said journalists faced many challenges outside the EU: „Journalists have a crucial role to play for any society to be democratic and open. Throughout the world, we see with concern a raising number of countries where the these freedoms are being targeted with increasing levels of intimidation, harassment and violence suffered by journalists, bloggers and other people working in the media.”
The Spanish S&D member added that journalists in many countries were experiencing problems such as legislative restriction on the freedom of expression and opinion, the abusive application or misuse of the existing one, the surveillance and control of social media, or the self-censorship caused by the fear climate imposed with impunity by some repressive governments. „There are still many places in the world where being a journalist means you risk your life.”
The Parliament has also awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to several journalists and advocates of freedom of press since it was first launched in 1988. Freedom of press is also assessed when drafting reports on countries wanting to join the EU or on electoral observation activities.
In a resolution in May 2013, MEPs called for the annual monitoring of media freedom and pluralism in all EU countries. It has also called for measures to protect journalists and urged the EU to support investigative journalism.
In addition the Parliament finances the Media Pluralism Monitor (MPM), designed to identify potential risks to media pluralism inall EU countries. The results of the first pilot phase covering nine member states were published earlier this year.
For more on the situation of the press in the world today, check out our infographic above on the World Press Freedom Index by Reporters without Borders.