European press freedom under threat according to Reporters Without Borders 2015 report
Attacks, conflict and repressive security laws are putting journalists under increasing pressure, even in Europe, according to Reporters Without Borders.
Lately, when the issue of press freedom rears its head, it is difficult not to immediately think of Turkey and its restriction of freedom of speech. The European Parliament and European Commission have both made their concerns known in a progress report released a few days ago.
In the rankings of countries that limit press freedom the most, Turkey has remained among the worst offenders under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, dropping two places from 149th in 2015 to 151st out of 180 countries. This is according to the World Press Freedom Index 2016, which Reporters Without Borders published today (20 April).
Reporters Without Borders (RWB) wrote in its analysis that Turkey had launched a “massive crackdown on critical media” on account of its upped activity against Kurdish rebels. There have been more instances of gagging orders, news offices being put into state receivership and journalists being arrested.
RWB also demonstrated that this is as a result of increasingly autocratic tendencies in countries like Egypt, Russia and Turkey, where media-hostile, sometimes religious ideologies and repressive security laws have been put in place. Additionally, armed conflicts in Libya, Burundi and Yemen have also made the world less safe for the press to do their job. Closer to home, attempts in Poland and Hungary to control the media have contributed to a worsening environment for journalists.
“Many leaders react in a paranoid fashion to legitimate criticism by independent journalists,” said RWB spokesperson Michael Rediske. “When autocratic presidents and governments evade criticism, it promotes self-censorship and suffocates political discourse,” he added.
However, it is not just under repressive regimes where members of the media face difficulties. Even Germany has its problems and fell four places in the index to be placed 16th. Hostility, threats and violent attacks against journalists have increased in the Federal Republic.
RWB listed at least 39 attacks on journalists, mostly occuring during PEGIDA rallies and other right-wing demonstrations.
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