Fighting for the right to free media

by Michelle Trimborn
Together with its partner organisations the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom celebrates World Press Freedom Day –with a reminder that press freedom in Europe is under threat.


Since 1993, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)  has been raising awareness on World Press Freedom Day about the state of media freedom and freedom of expression all over the world.  This year the newly- founded ECPMF joins the discussions for the first time at the 2016 meeting in Helsinki, Finland.

And there is a lot to discuss.  Many panels focus on how to implement safety mechanisms for journalists at the national level. This topic is of great importance: ECPMF is concerned about the safety of journalists in Europe, where there is a new dimension of violence against journalists, namely massive insults and physical attacks (more).

Violence, prison sentences and other threats lead to an atmosphere of fear which prevents journalists from doing investigative and independent work:

Self-censorship is one of today’s biggest dangers to media freedom. Wherever threats and intimidation prevent journalists from doing their job, it is more than a violation of press freedom: it is a violation of democracy. It influences society as a whole”,

says Henrik Kaufholz, chair of the ECPMF.

Especially the situation of media and journalists in Turkey and Azerbaijan causes alarm. The ECPMF is watching these states closely. We are listening to the concerns of the media workers and offering concrete financial and legal help to support individual journalists in their important fight for free media.

In Helsinki, ECPMF staff are debating the safety of journalists, gender equality in media, hate speech and the protection of sources and whistleblowers. Of course, we are also there to meet many interesting organisations and press freedom advocates from all over the world to stand strong together to provide a better and safer working environment for journalists.

In case you are in Helsinki at #WPFD2016 and want to meet us, contact us on Twitter!

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