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Press freedom groups endorse Council of Europe's online safety platform for journalists

On the left, Thorbjorn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe and Mogens Bjerregard, President of the European Federation of Journalists.
On the left, Thorbjorn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe and Mogens Bjerregard, President of the European Federation of Journalists.

© Mustafa Kuleli

This statement was originally published on ifj.org on 5 December 2014.

The International Federation of Journalists' (IFJ) president, Jim Boumelha, signed, on 4 December 2014, a Memorandum of Understanding with the Council of Europe to promote the protection of journalism and safety of journalists. The European Federation of Journalists' president, Mogens Blicher Bjerregård, signed too, as well as representatives of three other media freedom NGOs.

The event took place in a conference jointly organized by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and the French Senate at the Palais du Luxembourg, in Paris.

"Politicians at the European Assembly in Europe have finally woken up to the plea of journalists under attack", said Jim Boumelha. "There is already ample information on the threats confronted by journalists every day. We welcome the council's online platform as a useful complement to what already exists and we will work with the council to develop it into an important rapid response mechanism."

Reporters Without Borders (RWB), Article 19 and the Association of European Journalists (AEJ) also signed the memorandum. The conference involved many politicians, academic and editors from different media such as Le Monde, the BBC and The Economist, among others, who discussed the risks and threats that journalists have to face nowadays.

"This platform is the first step to create a tool to react more swiftly and take action to enhance the safety of journalists", said the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjorn Jagland, who signed the text on behalf of this institution.

The tool, which was launched yesterday, would allow trusted media freedom partner agencies to post "alerts" on a public, centralized online platform when individual journalists are in danger or their work is under threat - opening the way for swift reactions from international organizations which uphold media freedom standards, such as the Council of Europe, the OSCE Media Freedom Representative, the EU and the UN.

Alerts would include factual information - vetted by the partners - on physical threats to journalists, bloggers or writers, as well as their sources, invasions of privacy or judicial intimidation of journalists through abusive use of laws on defamation, national security, or extremism. The platform would also show action taken by the Council of Europe in response, as well as regular reports and the comments of the member States concerned.

The conference comprised three sessions: the first one on reinforcing the protection of journalists against physical attacks; the second one on protecting journalists and media freedom from misuse of the law and finally a roundtable on towards an early warning and rapid response mechanism of the Council of Europe for the protection of media freedom and the security of journalists.

Read the memorandum understanding here.

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