Freedom of press is essential for democracy says MEP

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ALDE MEP Marietje Schaake has said a free pluralist media is essential for democracy, and the EU should aspire to protect the ‘free word’.


On Thursday, parliament adopted Schaake’s press freedom report, which aims to combat the repression of media across the globe.

She said, “The EU, as a community of values, should aspire to lead in protecting the free word, whether blogged or spoken, and information, whether researched or photographed.”

She described the increasingly dire situation that journalists around the world find themselves in as “extremely worrying”.

The Dutch MEP warned, “There has been a sharp rise in the repression of media across the globe and the signs are that the situation is getting worse.

“What is happening around the world today is extremely worrying. In Syria, over 150 journalists have been murdered over the past two and a half years, Turkey has more journalists imprisoned than any other country in the world.

“In Iran, in the run up to the elections, the media and internet have been further restricted and in Russia journalists and bloggers have been murdered and beaten up – intimidation that is barely investigated.

Shaake explained, “Freedom of speech lies at the core of open and free societies and a free, pluralist media is essential for democracies and checks on power and the EU should endeavor to protect this right wherever it is under threat.

“We must mainstream press freedom in all our policies on election observations, democracy, neighbourhood, trade and development programmes. Journalists facing trial should be able to rely on our know-how, and on a legal defence fund.”

She continued “The programmes the EU already have in place should be deployed more effectively but new ones are also necessary.

“If we improve the coordination between the commission and the external action service, we can achieve stronger impact globally.

S&D deputy Liisa Jaakonsaari also expressed her concerns about the the decline in press freedoms, particularly in Europe.

She warned, “There is no room for complacency, we have to get our own house in order. Unfortunately, issues of media ownership concentration, dependencies and legal restrictions exist in our own backyard in the EU.

“We have to take action at home and at the same time optimise our efforts to promote and protect freedom of expression in our engagements with third countries.

“Our international agreements are essential tools to make a real difference. This is why the S&D group insists that the EU should reinforce human rights – and especially freedom of expression – in its international agreements by including benchmarking and monitoring mechanisms.”

 

Written for theparliament.com

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