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IRIS 2018-7:1/6

Parliamentary Assembly

Resolution on the status of journalists in Europe

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Emmanuel Vargas Penagos

Institute for Information Law (IViR), University of Amsterdam

On 25 April 2018, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted a Resolution on the status of journalists in Europe. The draft of this resolution was previously adopted by PACE’s Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media on 4 December 2017 (see IRIS 2018-2/4). The adopted Resolution gives a stronger emphasis on the safety of journalists and media actors than its draft. In particular, PACE recommends that states take necessary steps to strengthen such protection, to stop harassment either of a judicial, administrative or financial nature, and put an end to impunity for attacks. Furthermore, the Resolution identifies specific matters to be addressed in changes of legislation of member states, such as protection from precarious working conditions that may bring undue pressures, providing wide legal definitions of journalistic work, repealing disproportionate and restrictive defamation laws, and ensuring procedural guarantees in libel proceedings where journalists are appearing as defendants.

Moreover, PACE recommends that member states support action plans to tackle the problem of gender inequality on the labour market in the media sector (including the drawing-up of studies containing statistical indicators) and the introduction of mechanisms aimed at encouraging employers’ organisations to seriously tackle this problem in the long term. Furthermore, the Resolution recommends that journalists’ right to freedom of association be respected, in particular as regards adhering to trade unions and journalists’ associations. In addition, the Resolution notes the need to promote dialogue between employees and freelancers with their employers (by contrast, the draft resolution only referred to workers).

Another issue which was addressed by the final version of the Resolution and which signals the greater emphasis now placed on safety issues is the call to promote (in both the financial and operative sense) PACE’s Platform to promote the protection of journalists and safety of journalists. Notably, PACE condemned the assassinations of journalists Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta, Ján Kuciak in the Slovak Republic and Maxim Borodin in the Russian Federation and called on those countries’ authorities to conduct effective investigations. These issues were added to the final draft after the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights had urged that the Resolution explicitly address the above-mentioned issues and denounce the aforesaid assassinations. The Committee had also considered that the draft Resolution needed to take a wider approach to the definition of “journalists”.

References
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Resolution 2213 (2018) on the status of journalists in Europe, 25 April 2018 EN
 http://merlin.obs.coe.int/redirect.php?id=19133