Turkey must respect foreign media outlets’ independence

 Joint statement calls for press card to be renewed without further interference 

Pressure on international media in Turkey is increasing. German journalists have been expelled from the country as their press accreditations were not renewed. International freedom of expression organisations including the AEJ urge Turkey’s authorities in a joint alert to revoke the decisions, to stop the expulsion of international journalists, to renew press cards to foreign media outlets, and to respect their independence.Joint alert

Two German journalists were compelled to leave Turkey on Sunday, 10 March 2019, after their press accreditations were not renewed for 2019 without any explanation. Jorg Brase, a journalist working for Germany’s ZDF public broadcaster, and Thomas Seibert, reporter at the Tagesspiegel newspaper, were long-term correspondents in the country. The Turkish embassy in Germany apparently tried in vain to make a deal to have the correspondents replaced, Tagesspiegel’s editor-in-chief reports. A third journalist, Halil Gulbeyaz, with NDR TV also had his accreditation refused and is not allowed return to Turkey.

Besides the recent and on-going intimidation, detention, and prosecution of local journalists, pressure against foreign media outlets has been growing in Turkey. These incidents are not isolated cases, but show a systematic approach to also silence and control foreign independent media coverage in the country. Several international journalists have faced intimidation or been forced to leave the country already over the past year after they fell out of favour with Turkey’s government. Others are still waiting for the renewal of their accreditations and might have to leave the country as well. Press cards are necessary work permits to receive a residence permit.

The latest incident yet again marks a strong and arbitrary affront against international press freedom and independent media outlets. It is especially worrying in the run-up to local elections at the end of March (and general elections in 2023).

The undersigned organisations call on the EU institutions for a meaningful response. Moreover, we urge Turkey’s authorities to revoke the decisions, to stop the expulsion of international journalists, to renew press cards to foreign media outlets, and to respect their independence.

 

Signed:

European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)

Article 19

Articolo21

Association of European Journalists (AEJ)

Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI)

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)

Danish PEN

European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)

German PEN

Global Editors Network (GEN)

Human Rights Watch

International Press Institute (IPI)

Italian Press Federation

Norwegian PEN

OBC Transeuropa

PEN America

Platform for Independent Journalism (P24)

South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO)

Swedish PEN

World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA)

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Now what? Brief answers to 8 questions about gov’t resignation

The prime minister tendered his government’s resignation to the president on Friday, and questions abound as to what that means for Finland moving forward.

Details find here:  https://yle.fi/uutiset/osasto/news/now_what_brief_answers_to_8_questions_about_govt_resignation/10681192

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Data leak reveals shady financial transfers to Nordea Bank

Nordea bank in Finland received hundreds of millions of euros, some of it from suspicious sources, according to leaked documents.

Details find here:  https://yle.fi/uutiset/osasto/news/data_leak_reveals_shady_financial_transfers_to_nordea_bank/10672754

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EJN demund freeing political prisoners in Egypt

Helsinki, 25 February 2019

We want to bring to your attention the situation of seven Egyptian citizens: Mr
Marzouk Masoum , former assistant foreign minister, former journalist and
Ambassador to Finland, Estonia and Uganda and his 6 fellow human rights activists:
Professor of Geology at Helwan University Yahia Al Qazzaz; Economist Raed
Salama; Activist Nermeen Hussein; Activist Amr Mohamed; Professor of
Archaeology Abdel Fattah Saeed El-Banna; Sameh Saudi, head of Union.
We call for the immediate release and fair treatment of these opposition
activists.
Following reports on CNN, BBC Arabic, The Times, Al Jazeera and other
media outlets, Mr Marzouk Masoum was taken from his home on 23rd of August
2018 and kept in detention for 15 days accused of ‘complicity with a terrorist group
aiming to undermine the state’s institutions.’
Since then 6 months have passed and the activists are still held in solitary
confinement in a state prison. Concerned for their health, several personalities and
humanitarian associations have made a call to action to change the terrible detention
conditions and for their immediate release.

Urgent action is required- on 2nd of March a court session will decide on
further imprisonment or conditional release.
The official accusation tries to falsely enlist Mr Marzouk as a supporter of the
Muslim Brotherhood, which is banned in Egypt, and against which Mr Marzouk
wrote many articles, as reported by his family.
The visits are reduced to 30 minutes a week and some had been cancelled
without explanations after families had waited several hours in the scorching sun in
front of the prison.
The arrest came shortly after Mr Marzouk called for a national referendum
regarding President Sisi’s power, only months after he secured a second term as
President. In reality the activists are political prisoners.
As journalists we are increasingly alarmed by executions and unlawful
imprisonments repeatedly reported by international media and by human rights
organisations. Attempts to silence freedom of speech and political opponents in Egypt
have been frequently reported.
Following these widely available reports, President Sisi has won his second
term after banning 5 of his opponents to run in the presidential elections, only
allowing one of his supporters to pose as counter candidate. Under a pretended
popular campaign he is also looking for a change in Constitution to ensure his
position in power after the 2 terms stipulated by law.
We, the European Journalists Network in Finland, branch of the
Association of European Journalists, call on the Egyptian authorities to show
their good will and follow international practices in order to ensure freedom of
speech and fair treatment of members of the opposition.
We equally call onto the European Union members and its institutions to
support our action and call for freedom of expression in Egypt and the freeing of
journalists and political activists.
We join our voices with those of Egyptians requesting the immediate release of
all unlawfully imprisoned people and of the 7 persons detained in case no. 1305 of
2018 opened on August 23, 2018 :
Mr Marzouk Masoum
Professor of Geology at Helwan University Yahia Al Qazzaz
Economist Raed Salama
Activist Nermeen Hussein
Activist Amr Mohamed
Professor of Archaeology Abdel Fattah Saeed El-Banna and
Sameh Saudi, head of Union

To:
Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, Mr Timo Soini
President of the European Council, Mr. Donald Tusk
President of the European Commission, Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker
President of the European Parliament, Mr. Antonio Tajani
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Michelle Bachelet
Secretary General of Council of Europe, Mr. Thorbjørn Jagland
European Union members
Amnesty International
Members of the Media

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Call for justice and accountability of state authorities on the anniversary of the murder of Jan Kuciak

On behalf of the undersigned media freedom organisations, representing thousands of journalists and human rights activists across Europe, we urge the Slovak authorities to immediately start examining state responsibility in the failure to prevent the assassination of Jan Kuciak.

Tomorrow marks a full year since journalist Kuciak and his fiancee Martina Kusnirova were murdered in Slovakia. Kuciak was investigating cross-border corruption and links between powerful people and various mafia networks.

Since February 2018, we have closely monitored press and media freedom in Slovakia. We welcome the arrests of suspects who have now been charged in connection with Kuciak’s and Kusnirova’s murder.

However, a few months before he was killed, Kuciak reported threats against his person to the police. He published a post on his Facebook timeline on 20 October 2017 describing the absence of police actions after he had officially reported a threat by the businessman Marian Kocner. “It’s 44 days since I filed a threat … and the case probably doesn’t even have a particular cop [named in the case]”, his post reads.

When journalists report threats against them, the state is obliged to protect their life under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights. We are concerned that to date there has been no adequate investigation of possible state breaches in its protective obligation.

We need answers to the following questions: (i) whether Slovakia knew, or ought to have known, of a present and immediate threat to his life; (ii) which steps, if any, have they taken to protect Kuciak from that threat; (iii) and what will be done to protect Slovak journalists in the future.

The killing of Kuciak and Kusnirova shocked the European public and has had a chilling effect on other journalists. In an environment of intimidation, threats, political interference and impunity, investigative journalists have to fear for their lives to fulfil their work and report on corruption and other threats to democracy. The value of independent journalism and free media should not be put into question. Anti-media rhetoric from those in high office is unacceptable, all the more so after the assassination of Jan Kuciak.

In addition, in January 2019 the Slovak ruling party proposed a bill, which would amend the Press Act to reintroduce a “right of reply”. If passed, this provision would contribute to an increasingly hostile environment for the free press by providing politicians who are the subject of critical news with the means to censor unwanted criticism. We call on the Slovak parliament to reject this bill. Moreover, the Government of the Slovak Republic must not undermine trust in public institutions, including the now to be newly composed Constitutional Court. It is its duty to uphold the rule of law.

We ask the Slovak authorities to carefully consider the resolution, approved by the LIBE Committee of the European Parliament on 19. February 2019, that includes a call on the Government of Slovakia to ensure the safety of journalists.

It is imperative that all relevant state authorities take effective and consistent action to counter the lack of safety for journalists across Europe. We seek justice for Jan Kuciak’s killing. We will keep pressuring until the perpetrators are found and duly convicted according to European standards.

 

Signed by:

European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)

Article19

Association of European Journalists (AEJ)

European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)

Index on Censorship

Osservatorio Balcani Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT)

Ossigeno per l’informazione

PEN International

Reporters Without Borders (RSF)

South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO)

Sources AEJ

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Annual Report by the Partner Organisations to the Council of Europe

Platform to Promote the Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists 2019

Press freedom in Europe is more fragile now than at any time since the end of the Cold War. Journalists increasingly face obstruction, hostility and violence as they investigate and report on behalf of the public. Urgent actions backed by a determined show of political will by Council of Europe member states are now required to improve the dire conditions for media freedom and to provide reliable protections for journalists in law and practice. Read more here.

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The War of Ideas – The Moroccan Experience in Fighting Violent Extremism

Violetta Teetor

(Helsinki, 12.2.2019) In a fact-by-fact account on ‘The War of Ideas’ and fighting radicalisation, Dr. Ahmed Abaddi from Rabita Mohammadia des Oulémas or Rabita Mohammadia of Scholars, presented arguments and solutions to a full house of academics, media and other interested parties. Rabita Mohammadia des Oulémas is an organization that pursues wisdom, noble values and moderate religious teachings of Islam.

It is no secret that trillions of dollars are spent on weapons and collateral business. Daesh, meaning ‘one who tramples underfoot, crushes’ as he prefers to call it, has been swallowed up by mercenaries and bandits who have employed more than just weapons to recruit followers. New tech in the shape of the dark web where anonymous parties are able to buy weaponry, is their domain. The believers and the recruits that have been lured by tweets, snapchat and other means of propaganda, are drawn by dreams that seem irresistible.

Disenfranchised youth get entrapped by the promise of:

 

  • Unity and how the Ottoman Empire existed before 1921
  • Dignity in the photos they see of proud soldiers in uniform, carrying rifles
  • Purity and how they can practice an ‘untarnished’ form of Islam
  • Salvation in these ‘apocalyptic’ days
  • Mastery in understanding this confused world where the magic formula is a simple binary system of good and evil, right and wrong

It is easy to understand why millennials and devout Muslims would be drawn in by such an ideology.

But what is the response to radicalization and how can this war of ideas be won? The good news is that we live in an age of IT, a world in which children excel and this is where the Rabita Mohammadia of Scholars has recognised an untapped resource. Dr. Abaddi knows that preaching, lecturing or teaching will not inspire the same way as gaming would. Instead of banning smart phones from schools, invite these tools in and get the youth to tell their own story based on superheroes like Batman and Superman that everyone recognises. Encourage them to make videos, draw their own cartoon series, write their own songs to give themselves a voice for the betterment of their society. This has proven to be a strong motivator for young people in Morocco. And if Daesh sends out 90 000 tweets a day, how much more can bodies of students and thinkers send out if they are committed to opposition with no budget necessary, just a will to do so?

Dr. Abaddi closed his presentation with an outline of what religion should mean to the individual: happiness, orientation, discernment, choices, living together safely and ethical and moral deeds. He also reminded us that the country that came first in a survey of the functions propagated by Sharia law i.e. preservation of:

  • Life
  • Ethics and morals
  • Dignity
  • Lineage and the continuation of the species
  • Reason
  • Property

… was Sweden

Violetta Teetor is a freelance journalist and President of the European Journalists Network, the Finnish section of the Association of European Journalists.

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AEJ demands action to stop adoption of intrusive Bulgarian data law

AEJ demands action to stop adoption of intrusive Bulgarian data law, sees serious threat to press freedom

The International AEJ issues an urgent appeal to Bulgarian politicians and to all European institutions committed to defending press freedom to speak out strongly against the ill-considered and unacceptable  proposals now before the Bulgarian parliament. Sweeping changes in the Law for Protection of Personal Data that were approved by parliament last month would remove vital safeguards for journalists and open the door to censorship, the AEJ says.  

The country’s president has responded once by exercising his veto, reflecting concerns about the overly broad nature of the powers being sought by the government in an amendment to the current law which the governments says is needed to comply with new EU regulations on data protection. The AEJ and other media and civil society organisations fear that the parliament may override the president’s veto by voting for the changes by adopting the amendment by an absolute majority when it comes back to parliament in the coming days.   

AEJ Bulgaria has made known its serious concerns and requested urgent consultations with ruling and opposition party leaders without delay. The International AEJ, an independent association of journalists active across Europe, urges Bulgarian politicians to heed these warnings and to revise the proposed legislative changes to provide for essential exceptions that would guarantee the protection of personal data for journalists and certain other professional groups. 

Here is the full Statement by AEJ Bulgaria published on 8 February:

On the 23rd of January 2019, the Bulgarian Parliament adopted amendments to the Law for Protection of Personal Data in its effort to comply with the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). However, some particular amendments raise serious concerns among journalists, artists, writers, bloggers and scientists. Which the Association of European Journalists-Bulgaria addressed back in May, when the Bulgarian Data Protection Committee and the Ministry of Interior first presented the new bill.

According to art. 85 of GDPR, Member States shall by law reconcile the right to protection of personal data pursuant to this Regulation with the right to freedom of expression and information, including data processing for journalistic, academic or artistic purposes and for the purposes of literary expression.

The Bulgarian effort to follow art. 85 is made by guaranteeing the right to use personal data for journalistic purposes and the purposes of academic, artistic or literary expression. However, an additional provision lists 10 criteria, which everyone who exercises this right and uses personal data for those purposes should comply with, according to the amendment “when they are applicable”. However, the criteria are so broad, they open the door for censorship by the power, vested with the new amendments in the Bulgarian Data Protection Committee. The Committee will have the authority to use the criteria “to judge the balance between the freedom of speech and the right to personal data protection, as applicable.”

The criteria include:

the nature of the data;

1.      the impact that public disclosure will have on a subject’s personal and private life and on their good name;

the circumstance under which the personal data was acquired;

2.      the nature of the statement through which the administrator will publish the personal data;

3.      the importance of the disclosure for the public interest;

4.      weather the subject contributed in any way through their actions for the awareness of the administrator of these data;

5.      whether the subject is a public figure or not;

6.      the goal, content, format and repercussions of the publication;

7.      the compliance with the statement made for the journalistic and other purposes with other fundamental civil rights;

other circumstances relevant to the particular case;

Instead of guaranteeing the freedom of expression by adopting an exception of the new regulation of the protection of personal data for journalists, writers, artists and scientists, the Bulgarian legislator adopts amendments, which limit the use of personal data for journalistic and other purposes. If the Bulgarian Data Protection Committee decides these criteria are not met, it can open administrative proceedings and impose a fine, which can be up to 5000 lv (2500 euro).

Although those criteria were taken from the practice of the European Court of Human Rights, listing all of them in a new law threatens the right balance between freedom of expression and data protection. The bill counters the spirit of the GDPR and fails to guarantee freedom of speech, as it breaches the constitutional freedom of the press and other mass information media in that they shall not be subjected to censorship (art. 40 of the Constitution of Republic of Bulgaria).

The Association of European Journalists-Bulgaria, along with some other organisations (the Access to Information Programme and the Union of the Bulgarian Journalists, The Association of European Journalists-Bulgaria) addressed their appeal to the President Roumen Radev, asking for a veto of the amendments. He vetoed the amendments on 4th of February 2019. According to the President these ten formulated criteria create unnecessary over-regulation, as they require journalists, scientists or writers to decide and prove lawful usage of personal data. According to his motives, the criteria concern the fundamental right to freedom of expression and information.

The parliament can override the veto by an absolute majority of votes, which means more than half of all deputes (121/240). So far, the Association of European Journalists-Bulgaria believes the odds are that the parliament will vote in favour and the amendments will be passed.

Therefore, we are strongly concerned that those amendments will allow the control over media and media outlets by the state and are direct violation of the idea and the guarantees made during the discussions for the adoption of the GDPR. We would like to address awareness on those problems and to attract some international pressure on this topic. We are strongly concerned that the Bulgarian legislator has not fully understand the purposes and the ideas of GDPR and the importance of finding the balance between freedom of expression and protection of personal data. Some statements of respected European organizations will help some awareness to be raised among the Members of Parliament.

READ HERE the item as it appeared on the AEJ-Bulgaria website:

http://www.aej-bulgaria.org/eng/p.php?post=2778&c=146&d=2019-02-08%2012:39:21&n=freedom-of-expression-in-bulgaria-is-endangered-by-the-new-amendments-of-the-law-for-protection-of-personal-data

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Assessing Energy Dependency in the Age of Hybrid Threats

“Because of the interconnected nature of energy infrastructure, Hybrid CoE member nations and allied organizations should consider adopting a common approach to assessing risk associated with energy dependencies in the age of hybrid threats.” – write Duane Verner, Agnia Grigas, and Frederic Petit from Argonne National Laboratory.

Many nations face significant challenges from hybrid threats involving the energy sector. Therefore, enhancing the protection and resilience of energy systems is an urgent goal—a goal made more challenging by the inherent dependencies and interdependencies within infrastructure systems and between energy-producing, -importing, and -transiting countries.

Dependencies influence all components of risk: threat, vulnerability, resilience, and consequence. They can themselves be a threat, affect the resilience and protection of critical infrastructure, and lead to cascading and escalating failures.  Growing dependencies across infrastructure systems, particularly reliance on information and communications technologies, have increased the potential vulnerabilities to physical and cyber threats and potential consequences resulting from the compromise of underlying systems or networks. In an increasingly interconnected world, where energy infrastructure crosses national borders and global supply chains, the potential impacts increase with these dependencies and the ability of adversaries to exploit them.

In addition, the geopolitics of energy, including global market and security considerations, is becoming more complex, which underscores the need to analyze and understand energy dependencies. Based on these factors, it is essential to integrate energy dependency considerations into hybrid threat, risk, and resilience assessments and strategies.

The goal of this paper is to enhance Hybrid COE member nations’ and allied organizations’ understanding of energy dependencies in the context of today’s hybrid threat security environment. The report provides an overview of dependency-related policies and initiatives, explains the geopolitics of energy dependencies, describes the classes of dependencies, and presents a general approach and recommendations for integrating energy dependency considerations into hybrid threat analysis and resilience assessments and strategies. -Press release 5.2.2019

The report can be downloaded from the Hybrid CoE website: 

https://www.hybridcoe.fi/publications/assessing-energy-dependency-in-the-age-of-hybrid-threats/

 

 

 

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Annual General Meeting And the Ambassador of Romania to Finland

On 9th of January, after the AGM board meeting we had as speaker His Excellency Ambassador of Romania, Mr. Răzvan Rotundu. He talked about the EU Presidency held by Romania until July, when it will then be passed on to Finland. Although some media speculated that both the government and the president face judicial issues on corruption, His Excellency assured that EU matters are taken care of at institutional levels and will not be affected. Romania will be organizing the meetings regarding the European agenda as scheduled. Romania has also been working with the past presidency of Austria, Finland, and Czech Republic to ensure continuous work and collaboration on European matters.

At the meeting both His Excellency Răzvan Rotundu and his political counsellor, Eugen Ciocoiu – also a former journalist and speaker of Foreign Affairs Ministry – answered questions.

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