CPJ Blog

Press Freedom News and Views

Jean-Paul Marthoz

CPJ EU Correspondent Jean-Paul Marthoz is a Belgian journalist and longtime press freedom and human rights activist. He teaches international journalism at the Université catholique de Louvain and is a columnist for the Belgian daily Le Soir.

Blog   |   Hungary

UN review of Hungary shows country 'treats human rights as a public enemy'

Hungary's Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, talks to the press outside the EU leaders' summit in March. The country's poor press freedom record and policies on asylum seekers have been criticized by the U.N. (AFP/John Thys)

On May 9, a stern review of Hungary's conduct in human rights issues and press freedom was released at the United Nations Human Rights Council. The report, drafted by the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, listed concerns from U.N. member states about the controversial policies of Viktor Orbán's government on asylum seekers and hate speech, as well as the poor state of press freedom.

Blog   |   Belgium, France, Germany, Internet, Luxembourg, Spain, UK

EU rulings on whistleblowers and right-to-be-forgotten laws puts press freedom at risk

The EU flag hangs in the European Parliament in Strasbourg. A series of votes on legislation could impact journalists in member states. (AFP/Patrick Hertzog)

European journalists were reminded today that their freedom to report is not only determined by national laws, but increasingly by European institutions. Today, after years of political battle, the European Parliament adopted the Passenger Name Record directive, the Data Protection Package, and the Trade Secrets Protection Act. The stakes were immense and the debates long and heated, leading to dissent and divisions within many political groups-and campaigns about the potential impact from journalists.

Blog   |   France, Germany, Greece, Hungary

Journalists not welcome: Across Europe, press and migrants increasingly barred

Hungarian police try to stop a young migrant with a baby in September 2015. Journalists covering the refugee story report being harassed, blocked and sometimes attacked. (Reuters/Marko Diurica)

"The press is not allowed in refugee centers." The message from the Greek government could not have been clearer. "No permission will be given to television crews and reporters to enter such premises that hosts refugees," Yannis Mouzalas, the minister in charge of immigration policy, said in a February 29 statement. In protest the Pan-Hellenic Federation of Journalists' Unions, one of Greece's most important media professionals' organizations, responded by underlining that "the need for awareness of society requires showcasing all aspects of the refugee crisis, including the conditions in refugee hosting areas."

Blog   |   Poland

Will the EU's actions speak louder than its words on Poland's new media law?

The headquarters of TVP in Warsaw. Poland's new media law moves toward giving the government greater powers over the public broadcaster. (Reuters/Slawomir Kaminski)

On January 13, the European Commission--the so-called guardian of EU treaties--will meet in Brussels to debate a troubling law passed in Poland today that, according to reports, paves the way for the government to take control of public service TV and radio.

Blog   |   UK

As police seize Newsnight laptop, concerns grow at reach of UK counter-terrorism measures

For journalists investigating jihadist networks, the UK is proving to be no safe haven. British police used special powers under the Terrorism Act 2000 in August to seize the laptop of Secunder Kermani, a reporter for BBC Two's flagship news show "Newsnight," according to reports. "They required the BBC to hand over communication between the BBC journalist and a man in Syria who publicly identified himself as an [Islamic State] member," BBC spokeswoman said today.

Blog   |   CPJ, France

CPJ joins Council of Europe journalism safety platform

CPJ's EU correspondent Jean-Paul Marthoz, left, at the signing ceremony for the Council of Europe's platform to protect journalism and promote the safety of journalists. (Council of Europe)

The Committee to Protect Journalists has joined the Council of Europe's platform to protect journalism and promote the safety of journalists. The Strasbourg-based body set up the reporting system earlier this year as a way to hold its 47 member states responsible for responding to attacks against journalists.

Blog   |   Germany, Internet

Germany scores against the surveillance state

It all went very fast. On Tuesday morning August 4, Germany’s chief federal prosecutor, Harald Range, was ordered by Justice Minister Heiko Maas to withdraw an independent expert from the investigation of two journalists from Netzpolitik. The investigator had concluded that leaked documents quoted by the news website amounted to a disclosure of a state secret, one of the required criteria to pursue a treason case. The prosecutor protested: “To meddle with an internal review on the basis that the results might be inopportune is an intolerable interference with the independence of the judiciary .” A few hours later on Tuesday evening Maas asked for the prosecutor to be granted early retirement. In plain words, Harald Range was sacked.

Blog   |   France, Internet, Security

French surveillance law passes National Assembly, but it's not the last word

Protesters demonstrate against the government's bill giving spies sweeping new surveillance powers on May 4, 2015 in Paris. (AFP/Alain Jocard)

Until the last moment the opponents of a very controversial French intelligence bill tried to be heard. On Monday May 4 on the eve of the vote, activists kept calling deputies to convince them to reject the bill. They had no chance however, since the Socialist government could count on a solid majority from both mainstream left and right at the National Assembly, the lower house of the Parliament. The bill was swiftly and overwhelmingly adopted on Tuesday afternoon with 438 for, 86 against, and 42 abstentions. It will now be sent to the Senate where, despite the chamber being dominated by the center-right opposition, it is not expected to face significant hurdles. "It should be on the statute books by July ," BBC Paris correspondent Hugh Schofield predicted.

Blog   |   France, Luxembourg

Reporter who broke LuxLeaks story faces charges in Luxembourg

A flag flutters over a Luxembourg city street, above. French journalist Edouard Perrin, who helped expose the LuxLeaks tax revelations, has been indicted in the country. (AFP/Emmanuel Dunand)

The French journalist who helped break the LuxLeaks scandal, which exposed a large-scale, state-blessed system of tax avoidance in placid Luxembourg late last year, was indicted on April 23. A statement from the Luxembourg prosecutor's office accused Edouard Perrin of "being the co-author, if not an accomplice, in the infractions committed by a former PricewaterhouseCoopers employee" already charged with leaking documents exposing the scheme, according to reports.

Blog   |   Belgium, France, Internet

Cyberattacks rattle French, Belgian media outlets

A picture taken on April 9, 2015, shows a note on the window of a newsroom at French television network TV5Monde headquarters in Paris, after TV5Monde was hacked by individuals claiming to belong to the Islamic State group. (AFP/Thomas Samson)

The headquarters of Le Soir in the center of Brussels, two blocks away from the Parliament, look serene in the spring sunshine. No sign of violence scars the glass and stone facade. But the leading Belgian francophone daily, the flagship of the Rossel media group, has suffered a concussion. On Sunday a wave of hacking attacks rocked the paper. At 07:00 p.m., the hottest moment of the day when articles were pouring in and had to be published on deadline, the Newsgate data center started to slow down, the Wifi was disabled, the journalists’ professional and personal emails were neutralized. The paper-- where I am a columnist--immediately took emergency measures, separating the Internet from the intranet, to counter the attack and prevent the hackers from taking over the websites.

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