No happy new year for them!

The change of year has not meant a change of circumstances for the 177 journalists who, according to The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), spent New Year’s Eve in prison. Following reports from the EFJ national affiliates, 177 journalists spent New Year’s Eve in prison in Europe: 159 in Turkey; 11 in Azerbaijan; 5 in Russia; 2 in Ukraine. In Turkey, a significant number of journalists continued to be detained on charges related to alleged terrorism, while others convicted in 2018 received heavy imprisonment sentences, including life sentences. According to the EFJ no progress has been recorded concerning journalists currently serving life-imprisonment or very long imprisonment sentences and they have issued a strong call for release of all imprisoned journalists in Europe.

The Federation also identified different forms of judicial harassment aimed at journalists, preventing them from playing their role as public watchdogs holding power to account. These included arrests and short term detentions during protests and demonstrations, or while covering public events or investigating police links to illegal traffickers. The EFJ reported such cases in Greece, Belgium, Germany, and Italy. Criminal charges for alleged misuse of personal information were reported in Hungary and complaints lodged before the domestic courts by the authorities, seeking jail sentences for journalists on alleged trumped-up charges, such as extortion, in Russia and Azerbaijan, or for alleged theft and disclosure of confidential information  reported in Spain and the United Kingdom.

Meanwhile at the end of 2018 the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) published a list of 94 journalists and media staff killed in work-related incidents during the year. The death toll marks a slight increase up from 82 killings recorded in 2017 and represents a reversal of the downward trend from the previous three years. In Europe, four journalists were killed in 2018: Jan Kuciak (Slovakia), Jamal Kashoggi (Turkey) see my blog 14 November 2018 ‘Murdered with impunity’ at: http://thespark.me.uk/?p=1037, Victoria Marinova (Bulgaria), and Antonio Megalizzi (France). The list does not include the Russian journalist Maksim Borodin who died in suspicious circumstances in Ekaterinburg (Russia).

The IFJ says that last year’s roll call of lives lost by violence includes 84 journalists, cameramen, fixers and technicians who died in targeted killings, bomb attacks and cross-fire incidents. Ten other media staff members who worked as drivers, protection officers and a sales assistant also lost their lives. There are six women among the 94 victims. There were also three other work-related deaths.

According to IFJ’s 2018 records, the Asia Pacific had the highest deaths tally with 32, followed by the Americas on 27 killings, the Middle East and the Arab World recording 20, Africa came fourth with eleven killings, with Europe on four.

Source EFJ web site at: https://europeanjournalists.org/

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