Targeted violence against the media and censorship in Ukraine; police violence at a large street protest in Armenia; and the negative effects of excessive media concentration in Ireland are among the urgent topics highlighted in the 2015 Media Freedom Reports from national Sections of the AEJ.
In Ukraine, journalists have suffered an extremely high number of violent attacks, abductions and censorship cases, above all in Russian-controlled Crimea and in the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine. Seven journalists were killed in the war in eastern Ukraine in 2014 and one more was murdered in Kiev this year; state officials are accused of allowing a climate of impunity to grow by failing to prosecute many targeted assaults and shootings against journalists during the Euromaidan protests in early 2014; in all nearly 1000 individual cases of free speech violations were documented in 2014.
In Armenia, journalists’ groups have strongly protested against the alleged use of excessive force against journalists by police who broke up a large public demonstration in Yerevan in June. A criminal investigation was opened but so far no charges have been brought against the officers involved. The inciden3t was raised by the EJ as an ’Alert’ on the newly-formed Council of Europe online Platform for the safety of journalists. Armenian journalists are also conducting a campaign for protection of journalistic sources after a number of cases when the authorities have demanded that media outlets identify the sources of their reports on matters of public concern.
In Ireland journalists’ concerns are focused on alleged encroachments on press freedom arising from the way Ireland’s defamation and privacy protection laws are applied. And journalists say that recent government moves to tackle an unhealthy level of media ownership concentration are inadequate to break the ‘stranglehold’ of a few individuals and companies.
Each year AEJ national Sections write Media Freedom Reports highlighting issues of urgent concern and obstacles to the practice of free and independent journalism, which are discussed among members from across Europe at the annual Congress and Assembly.
The AEJ’s 2015 Congress and General Assembly are being held in the historic Romanian city of Sibiu. The President of Romania, Klaus, Iohannis, is among the leading personalities from Romania, Ukraine and other parts of Europe who are expected to address AEJ journalists from all corners of Europe at the gathering.