As the world commemorates World Press Freedom Day, Christophe Deloire, the secretary-general of Reporters Without Borders, proposed that the European Union considers appointing a Commissioner to defend freedom of the press.
He pointed out that amongst others, the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, Jan Kuciak and Jamal Khashoggi are among the most serious attacks on press freedom and a symptom of a deep-rooted problem.
In an article printed on Deutsch Welle, Deloire said that Europe is by far the one where freedom of the press is the most widely observed but points out that it is not immune.
Deloire points out that in Malta, Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered because of her investigations into a money laundering scam. In Slovakia, Jan Kuciak was killed because he was investigating a large-scale tax evasion scheme. These murders are among the most serious attacks on press freedom. They are also the symptom of a deep-rooted problem.
Journalism in Europe has been weakened by relentless, and often hyped-up, anti-media rhetoric by some political leaders, either in power or hoping to get there. Coverage of the yellow vest protests in France has provoked a profound dislike of journalists, sometimes going as far as rape threats directed at reporters.
“On the need of a European Commissioner for the freedom of the press, the Secretary General of Reporters without Borders said that like all public policies, the protection of freedom, independence and diversity of journalism must be embodied. We are campaigning for the next European Commission to appoint a commissioner with a clear mandate to take on this challenge. From Bucharest to Madrid, from Nicosia to Stockholm, from Dublin to Vienna, civil society needs a high-level representative to whom it can turn whenever this essential freedom is violated”.
Deloire said he or she would maintain a robust and continuous dialogue with member states, carrying concerns about the right to reliable news and information beyond our borders and initiating necessary EU legislative reforms.
In the meantime, at least 95 journalists were killed last year during the course of their work, according to the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).
The number of deaths is higher than in 2017, but not as high as peaks recorded in previous years when conflicts in Iraq and Syria were raging.
The highest number of media deaths recorded was 155 in 2006.
These figures include anyone working in some capacity for a media organisation.
According to Reporters Without Borders, this year 10 journalists were killed worldwide apart from one citizen journalist and one media assistant.