In response to Trump’s fake news awards, CPJ announces Press Oppressors awards

Source: Committee to Protect Journalists /

Amid the public discourse of fake news and President Trump’s announcement via Twitter about his planned “fake news” awards ceremony, CPJ is recognizing world leaders who have gone out of their way to attack the press and undermine the norms that support freedom of the media. From an unparalleled fear of their critics and the truth, to a relentless commitment to censorship, these five leaders and the runner-ups in their categories have gone above and beyond to silence critical voices and weaken democracy.

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Yle’s guide to Finland’s 2018 presidential election

Source: Yle News / Egan Richardson

Finland goes to the polls in January to elect a president for a new six-year term. Yle News has profiles of all the candidates and—for the first time ever—an English language ‘election compass’ to help voters explore their views.

On 28 January Finland holds a presidential election that will help shape the country’s foreign and security policy for the next six years. The role focuses on diplomacy and defence, with presidential powers much-diminished since the heyday of Urho Kekkonen.

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One more round in Germany, as Europe awaits


The political drama in Germany is not over. CSU/CDU and SPD have just officially started the negotiations to form another grand coalition. However, this long period of uncertainty has resulted in a fall in nationwide support for a coalition and also for Angela Merkel herself. There are voices arguing for the end of the Merkel era. Merkel is, indeed, on the defensive. On the other hand, we are skeptical about Schulz’s argument for a “United States of Europe” by 2025.

We believe that the way forward is not through closed borders and establishment-centric policies; that’s why DiEM25 has developed a European New Deal

(Read more

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6,700 Rohingya killed in first month of Myanmar violence

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
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At least 6,700 Rohingya Muslims were killed in the first month of a Myanmar army crackdown on rebels in Rakhine state that began in late August, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said on Thursday.

The figure is the highest estimated death toll yet of violence that erupted on August 25 and triggered a massive refugee crisis, with more than 620,000 Rohingya fleeing Myanmar for Bangladesh in three months.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
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AEJ Annual Congress in Vilnius prompts pledge of ‘smart’ response to Russian disinformation

by William Horsley,
AEJ Vice-President and representative for Media Freedom Vice-President

Lithuania’s Vice Foreign Minister, Darius Skusevičius, spoke at the AEJ’s Congress in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Friday 17 November, and he outlined to the association’s member journalists from 20 countries   the ‘smart’ policies his government as a NATO member is pursuing to combat what he called Russia’s ‘information war’ hostile disinformation and false news campaigns. Mr Skusevičius claimed that ‘purposefully misleading information’ put out by ‘dishonest media’ should   be seen as an extension of Russia’s military aggression in Ukraine. He said the propagation of Russian disinformation to the Baltic states and other countries in Europe was aimed at extending Russia’s political influence and undermining trust in the media in the West. It ‘must be combatted’, he declared.

Lithuania’s Vice Foreign Minister, Darius Skusevičius


Speaking on the theme of ‘reliable media and democratic politics’, the Vice Foreign Minister set out Lithuania’s 4-point approach to exposing and containing Russia’s ‘state-sponsored news and actions’ . The response would consist, he said, of 1) exposing the nature of ‘hostile information’ broadcast by Russian state-owned stations like Sputnik TV and RT (which he described in an aside as ‘Russia Yesterday’); 2) tackling the funding sources for those media; 3) maintaining western cohesion to disrupt the flow of falsehoods and hostile material; and 4) adopting an ‘adequate’ and comprehensive response – which should include promoting independent, high-quality media and equipping citizens in democratic states with the knowledge to distinguish between reliable and false information sources.


Lithuania has been a consistent supporter of international policies and campaigns related to bolstering media freedom and journalists’ safety. In 2015 Lithuania helped to sponsor a UN Security Council Resolution (2222) which called on all states to create a safe environment ‘in law and practice’ for media professionals to do their work, including in conflict situations. Lithuania is also a member of the international ‘Group of Friends on the Protection of Journalists’ at the UN. It is made up of at least 17 countries from all regions of the world committed to strengthening the protection of media workers and enhancing the accountability for crimes – including crimes of violence – committed against them.


Mr Skusevičius was speaking in advance of an EU summit meeting with leaders of the six ‘Eastern Partnership’ states – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine – where European leaders are due to pledge further support for those countries in strengthening rule of law, fighting corruption, engaging with civil society groups and strengthening independent media. On 14 November British prime minister Theresa May made a forceful speech accusing President Putin’s government of trying to undermine free societies and sow discord in the West by planting fake news stories and carrying out cyber espionage as well as threatening the security of countries like Ukraine.


The AEJ Congress, attended by over 60 journalists, held intensive debates with leading experts and practitioners on a range of related issues, including disinformation campaigns by Russian-controlled media and GONGOs (government-owned NGOs), fact-checking and editorial integrity, the rapid spread of manufactured ‘fake news’ from multiple sources, and the uses and misuses of data journalism.


The AEJ is an independent network of journalists active across Europe, whose major activities include protecting media freedom and promoting independent journalism. The AEJ is a founder member of the Council of Europe’s online Platform to promote the protection of journalism and the safety of journalists,

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With our nation states on the ropes, it’s time for cities to take the lead

Robert Muggah Research Director, Igarapé Institute
Richard Florida Professor of Business and Creativity, Joseph L. Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

The world is reeling from cascading threats. Climate change, pandemics, inequality, conflicts, terrorism and even the terrifying prospect of nuclear war are all on the rise. Yet exactly when international cooperation is most urgently required, collective action is found wanting. Part of the reason is that the four-century-long experiment with nation states is unraveling. And with our nation states on the ropes, 20th-century institutions like the United Nations and World Bank are paralyzed.

Countries are struggling to keep up with the pace and scale of change. They are rapidly ceding sovereignty to alternative configurations of governance, power and influence. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is hastening this shift. While nation states aren’t going to disappear overnight, power is increasingly distributed across non-state networks, including regressive ones. It is not just multinational companies and philanthropic organizations that are exerting ever greater influence, but vast conurbations of mega-cities and their peripheries as well.

Read More at World Economic Forum

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The Finnish Red Cross Is Sending A Hospital To Bangladesh To Help The Refugees

The first Finnish Red Cross aid workers will be flying to Bangladesh tomorrow at the earliest. The Disaster Relief Fund has granted 500,000 euros to managing the refugee crisis.

The refugees’ situation in the Cox’s Bazar area in Bangladesh is very serious. Since the end of August, more than 420,000 refugees have fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh, mostly women and children.

They are in desperate need of food, clean water, shelter, basic supplies and health services.

– We must hurry. Together with the Norwegian Red Cross, we are sending a hospital and roughly 20–25 aid workers to the area. The first Finnish Red Cross workers will be travelling on Saturday and the Finnish portion of the hospital early this week, say Kalle Löövi, the Director of International Operations.

Please read more and donate on The Finnish Red Cross Website

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International press freedom groups condemn killing of Maltese investigative journalist

News from Association of European Journalists (AEJ) at:

In a statement issued today Index on Censorship and 15 other press freedom organisations, including the AEJ, jointly condemn the killing of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia and call for an immediate and independent investigation into her death.“The murder of a prominent investigative journalist in broad daylight in an EU Member State underscores the seriousness of this crime. Daphne Caruana Galizia’s work as a journalist to hold power to account and shine a light on corruption is vital to maintaining our democratic institutions. Her killing is a loss for her country and for Europe”, Hannah Machlin, project manager for Index on Censorship’s data platform Mapping Media Freedom, said.

Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed when the car she was driving exploded in Bidnija around 15.00 on 16 October in what is thought to have been a targeted attack..

“The barbaric murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia is an attack on journalism itself. This crime is meant to intimidate every investigative journalist,” Dr Lutz Kinkel, Managing Director of the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom, said.

“Because Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and parts of Malta’s political elite were targets of Galizia’s disclosures, we strongly recommend an independent investigation of this case. The killers have to be found and put on trial.”

The blast left her vehicle in several pieces and threw debris into a nearby field. Half an hour before the powerful explosion, the journalist posted a comment about a libel claim the prime minister’s chief of staff had brought against a former opposition leader over comments the latter made about corruption.

Galizia filed a police report 16 days ago saying she was being threatened. The joint statement also calls for protection for family members of the murdered journalist and for other Maltese journalists who have been under threat; and fresh measures to protect the environment for independent and critical journalism to ensure that reporters can work freely.

Read the whole ‘Index on Censorship’ Statement ‘International press freedom groups condemn killing of Maltese investigative journalist’

The AEJ’s Media Freedom Representative William Horsley reflected widespread shock among the association’s members at the news of the brutal killing of a journalist in Malta in a car bombing: ‘AEJ journalists across Europe are shocked and horrified by the brutal and pre-meditated murder of a fearless and outstanding investigative journalist’ he said. ‘Daphne Caruana Galizia exposed corruption in high places in Malta and had suffered reprisals against her by the island’s authorities after her investigations prompted by revelations from the Panama Papers. Those facts, and the authorities’ failure to protect her despite earlier threats to her life all place a special burden of responsibility on those authorities to ensure that an independent investigation into the killing of Daphne Caruana Galizia is able to expose and bring to justice those responsible for her murder.’

Professor Marilyn Clark of the University of Malta responded to the AEJ’s request to share her assessment of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s life and work. Professor Clark, who conducted a recently published major study for the Council of Europe ‘Journalists under pressure: Unwarranted interference, fear and self-censorship in Europe’ Clark, said: ‘ Ms. Caruana Galizia’s exceptional career as a journalist in Malta spanned three decades. Her relentless efforts at bringing those in positions of power to account resulted in numerous experiences of unwarranted interference from a variety of sources, which nonetheless left her resolved to continue to provide a scathing critique of Maltese society, most notably cases of alleged corruption. She continued to show extreme resilience in a climate of pressure brought about by experiences of judicial and economic intimidation, smear campaigning and attacks on her moral integrity. The many attempts to silence her made her resolve to investigate the truth even stronger and to not self-censor. In a small interdependent, patriarchal society like Malta she risked exclusion and ridicule, but was not deterred. She remains the utmost role model for those aspiring to the journalistic profession.’

Read more about the Council of Europe study, based on interviews with almost 1000 journalists working across Europe here:

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We had fun – where were you?

Our annual summer party was held in the courtyard of Pengerkatu 23 on Wednesday 16 August 2017. Despite the coolish weather, the barbecue was hot and the rain stayed away for the entire event. Zaman arrived with pizzas to add to our mountain of chicken and halloumi burgers and Marjo kindly supplied us with berry pies for dessert. A big thank you to them and to all who attended. Here are some pics from Zaman.

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Serbian Embassy Welcomes Finnish Journalists

by Violetta Teetor

The Serbian Ambassador Saša Obradović and his lovely wife Javorka gave a group of Finnish journalists a warm welcome at the Embassy and residence in Kulosaari. Serbian snacks and wine were plentiful and we all agreed that their hospitality was above and beyond.

Serbian Ambassador Saša Obradović and his wife Javorka came to Helsinki from Rotterdam last November (Credit: Adrián Soto)

This says a lot about the Serbian people whom according to Finns that had been there and addressed us, are wonderfully welcoming and friendly. In addition to this plus factor, standards are high, Wi-Fi works and prices are inexpensive. Even women travelling alone can feel safe and tensions only rise when a political agenda is at stake.

Serbian snacks served by friendly Embassy staff (Credit: Adrián Soto)

We were told about top class events such as EXIT in Novi Sad, an internationally known rave for young people, lasting four nights in July. Uniquely Serbian is GUČA, a world famous trumpet festival held in the city of Čačak, where the trumpet is played in the strangest way with sounds emerging that even the best of the best can hardly believe.

There are mountains, rivers and forests with plenty of outdoor activities for adventure holidays. Spas of international quality cater to the health and wellness market while nightlife in Belgrade is ranked amongst the best in Europe.

After being watered and fed yet again, we left with dreams of a trip to this emerging Balkan country standing in line for EU membership.

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