Photo from Unsplash by Markus Spiske

Media freedom struggles on Human Rights Day

This year’s Human Rights Day was marked more than ever by fierce battles over free speech and media freedom played out in full public view across Europe.

December 10 is the anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948.

This December 10 in Oslo two journalists, Russia’s Dmitry Muratov and Maria Ressa of The Philippines, receive their joint Nobel Peace Prize – the first for journalists since 1935.

And AEJ international media freedom representative William Horsley reports on two recent unusual actions by the Council of Europe that demonstrate the key importance of both freedom of expression and the rule of law in Europe’s postwar human rights framework – based on the European Convention on Human Rights since the Convention came into force in 1953.

In a rare and highly significant move on December 3 the 47 member states of the Council of Europe gave the go-ahead to “infringement proceedings” against Turkey which could ultimately lead to the suspension of Turkey’s voting rights or the country’s expulsion from the Council of Europe.

And in a second unusual development on December 7 the Council of Europe’s Secretary General challenged Poland over what has been seen as the government’s attempts to interfere with the independence of the country’s judiciary and to deny the role of the European Court of Human Rights.

Horsley also notes that in this same week a leading Europe-based investigative reporting network – the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project – condemned a “cascade” of vexatious and groundless lawsuits filed in the past month against the award-winning Serbian investigative team KRIK and its chief editor Stevan Dojcinovic. KRIK’s revelations exposed police collusion in criminal activity and ties between a Serbian oligarch and Belarus president Aleksander Lukashenko.

Nobel Peace Prize ceremony live
William Horsley on Human Rights Day 2021
Council of Europe letter to Poland
Investigative reporting network condemns SLAPPS in Serbia