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  1. Media Law
June 15, 2017updated 16 Jun 2017 9:41am

More than 3,000 threats to press freedom put on the map in new online project

By James Walker

There have been more than 3,100 recorded threats to press freedom across Europe and its neighbouring states in the last three years, according to a new online tool that maps incidents.

The Mapping Media Freedom tool identifies threats, violations and limitations faced by members of the press throughout European Union member states, candidates for entry to the EU and neighbouring countries.

Of the total recorded, less than 2 per cent took place in the UK, which saw 59 cases of press freedom being threatened.

Among them is the decision by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s team to ban Buzzfeed from campaign events and reports of journalists being intimidated while reporting on the Scottish Independence referendum.

Others include job cuts at newspaper offices and instances of police abuse of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), as reported by Press Gazette.

The Met Police’s decision to prevent Press Gazette from submitting further Freedom of Information requests about its use of RIPA powers on the grounds that it was being “vexatious” is also included.

France has recorded 170 threats to press freedom, with Paris alone recording 114 incidents, and Germany has 94. Among the highest are Turkey, with 494 incidents and Russia with 341. Lowest is Norway with just two cases.

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The mapping project — which is co-funded by the European Commission — is operated by Index on Censorship in partnership with the European Federation of Journalists and Reporters Without Borders.

Jodie Ginsberg, Index on Censorship chief executive, said: “The precarious state of press freedom across Europe is underlined by the volume of verified incidents added to Mapping Media Freedom since it began collecting data.

“In just the last year, journalists have experienced violence from right-wing groups, criminal charges under anti-terrorism legislation and death threats. This atmosphere is undermining the public’s right to information.”

The Mapping Media Freedom tool will be officially launched at the Swedish Ambassador’s Residence in London on 21 June.

The launch will include a panel discussion, including Times columnist David Aaronovitch, on threats to press freedom in Europe and what can be done to protect journalists’ freedom of expression.

Search recorded incidents of press freedom restrictions online. 

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