A Note from the EU Representative and Advocacy Manager

December 19, 2019 11:49 AM ET

The Torch is a weekly newsletter from the Committee to Protect Journalists that brings you the latest press freedom and journalist safety news from around the world. Subscribe here.

Dear Friend of CPJ,

What a year it has been.

In the summer, European elections brought about a change within the institutions. We capitalized on the renewed political will by leading a call to the new Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, to make press freedom a priority, and our call was answered. A new Commission vice president, Věra Jourová--with new powers to protect media freedom in the EU--was chosen to take on the mantle. Whether it was the result of sustained pressure around impunity in the killings of Ján Kuciak in Slovakia and Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta, we don’t know. But it does open up a host of possibilities for helping journalists in the EU over the next five years.

We marked the occasion by hosting an event in parliament with MEP Ramona Strugariu and OCCRP in October to raise questions about press freedom directly with the new commissioner. That week, we paid tribute to Caruana Galizia and her family with a memorial event set up by MEP David Casa in parliament and a large public vigil in Brussels. With our international campaign to end impunity, we worked to keep Daphne’s case in the limelight, efforts which seem to be yielding an impact even as we speak. However slow processes may seem, the efforts to challenge injustice and to improve safety for journalists must persist.

We traveled to Turkey in September as part of a joint press freedom mission. The situation there remains bleak--a game of roulette for journalists on the ground, as I explained later in my op-ed in the EU Observer. The press continues to face imprisonment, harassment, intimidation, and legal threats in Turkey. EU officials must stand shoulder to shoulder with journalists on the ground, and hold authorities to account for these attacks on press freedom.

Our advocacy at the Council of Europe grew stronger throughout the year. CPJ played an integral role in the publication and launch of this year’s annual report of the Journalist Safety Platform. It shook up the Council of Europe, galvanized attention on threats to the press, and even caught the eye of the secretary general. We continue to appreciate and make use of this unique accountability mechanism--both inside and outside the EU.

CPJ pushed EU institutions to take a leadership role on the world stage. We helped train diplomatic staff in December to uphold EU obligations to help journalists in danger. We built on our parliamentary links and got MEPs to take some amazing actions on behalf of individual journalists in distress. We worked alongside the EEAS to secure statements and declarations in support of press freedom.

We must remain vigilant. Journalists are at risk from an increasingly complex web of threats. There is persistent impunity around the world for crimes against journalists who feel more insecure and isolated than ever. We need to bind together more than ever, striving not only to protect the people, but also the very principles at stake.

Thank you for supporting us in these efforts, and for your ongoing commitment to press freedom.

Wishing you a happy festive period and looking forward to making a positive change to the lives of journalists in the New Year.

Sincerely,

Tom Gibson
CPJ EU Representatice and Advocacy Manager

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