Journalists reporting on the news, are not always welcome. via Unsplash


European press-freedom under serious threat as journalists intimidated, report finds


The Platform to Promote the Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists, a Council of Europe partner, warned against increasing abuse of journalists in its report on media freedom in Europe of 2024.

Its March 5 report concerns what it describes as: “The unlawful deployment of spyware against journalists, the use of abusive lawsuits against journalists to hamper their investigative work and the precarious situation of many journalists in exile.”

In 2023, the platform’s partners published 285 “alerts” about serious threats or attacks on media freedom in Europe, compared to 289 alerts in 2022.

“Although in 2023 the number of journalists killed and street-violence against them decreased, the alerts on the platform show a growing diversity of threats, pressure and constraints under which journalists must do their work,” the Council of Europe press release read.

“The research emphasises how the persistent use of spyware technology to monitor media actors and journalists continues to pose a threat to media freedom, and how accountability for alleged violations remains elusive.”

According to the document, journalists face the most operational difficulties in Russia, Belarus, Turkey, and Ukraine.

Several have been killed, wounded or arrested regarding the Ukraine conflict.

In Western Europe, France and Italy have the worst ratings regarding threats to journalists, while Hungary is one of the better-scoring countries.

Secretary General of the Council of Europe Marija Pejčinović Burić, said: “The Safety of Journalists Platform report shows the increasing risks and obstacles that journalists and media face in Europe.

“We need determined action from states to protect journalists and counter threats to media freedom such as abusive lawsuits and illegal surveillance.

“To enhance journalists’ safety, our Member States should show a strong commitment to respecting media freedom standards and promote the Council of Europe’s ‘Journalists Matter’ campaign at the national level.”

According to the report, there is a serious lack of accountability over details about the killing of journalists.

“By the end of the year, 30 impunity for murder cases, concerning 49 killed media workers, were active on the Platform,” Burić said.

“Journalist murders are rampant, including in formally democratic countries. To add insult to injury, impunity is the norm.

“The murder of a journalist and subsequent impunity send an ominous message to newsrooms, editors and reporters: keep your mouth shut,” she added.

In Russia, Belarus and Turkey, detention, arrests and criminal prosecution are often used as means to silence journalists.

The document includes information relating to the 46 members of the Council of Europe as well as Belarus and Russia, which was kicked out of the organisation in 2022.

The Platform to Promote the Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists was established in 2015 in collaboration with international NGOs involved in the field of freedom of expression and various associations of journalists.