AEJ actions on media freedom

The AEJ is constantly taking and joining action aimed at protecting media freedom.
The AEJ works closely with the Council of Europe and is part of the core editorial team which publishes annual reports through the Council’s online Platform to Promote the Protection of Journalism and the Safety of Journalists. The AEJ contributes to the Platform’s regular alerts on media freedom and threats.
Subscribe to the CoE Safety of Journalists Weekly Newsletter (link at bottom of CoE page)
AEJ alerts on CoE (click on Partners under “Search alerts” box)

Below are some highlights in recent years.


AEJ Media Freedom Representative annual report 2022
The AEJ’s media freedom representative William Horsley notes in his annual report for 2022 the seismic shock of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, accompanied by new attacks on free and independent journalism.
In his last media freedom report as AEJ media freedom representative, Horsley notes how the AEJ has established itself in the past ten years at the forefront of monitoring, warning and acting against political moves to stifle press freedom, not only in Russia and Belarus but in all parts of Europe.

Turkey defies ECHR ultimatum
The Turkish government defied a final ultimatum from the European Court of Human Rights which ordered the release from jail of Osman Kavala, a publisher and philanthropist who had been unlawfully held on false charges for more than four years. Kavala was given a life sentence by a Turkish court.
The AEJ and others warned of these alarming escalations but many European governments continued to ignore calls to strengthen legal and political safeguards. 

February 7: AEJ Cyprus Hybrid Debate on Media Freedom and Critical Journalism in Cyprus and Europe Speeches by AEJ President Saia Tsaousidou and Media Freedom Representative William Horsley.  

March: The Media Freedom Representative obtained AEJ membership of the Coalition Against SLAPPs in Europe (C.A.S.E)

April 27: Platform for Protection of Journalists 2022 Annual Report
Includes additional section on Russia’s invasion, at hybrid event at Brussels Press Club including AEJ sections.
Full text of report

May 3: World Press Freedom Day in Uruguay
“Journalism under Digital Siege”
UNESCO World Press Freedom Prize awarded to the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) which has been forcibly dissolved. 

May 18: Platform Report presented at UK Parliament
Speakers included William Horsley, Article 19, Index on Censorship. 

June 16: AEJ Seminar on Media Freedom and War in Ukraine
AEJ Media Freedom Representative was panelist and moderator in discussions on the impact on European journalism. Hosted at the European Parliament, Brussels.

June 29-30: Platform Partners media freedom mission in Hungary
Meetings with senior Orban government officials.

Joint statements with partner organisations
The AEJ joined with EFJ, IPI, RSF, ECPMF CPJ and others on protecting journalists in Ukraine, Russia’s political and media repression, anti-SLAPP campaigns, media freedom issues in Hungary, legal harassment in Malta, and EU Media Freedom Act.


AEJ Media Freedom Representative annual report 2021
The AEJ’s media freedom representative William Horsley notes in his annual report for 2021 that freedom of the press in Europe suffered severe attacks and damage from Covid-related and other politically-motivated barriers and restrictions on movement and access to information; political pressures to ‘capture’ the media and criminalise, jail or exclude critical journalists; and intense harassment and smear campaigns online and in traditional media.

AEJ campaign for justice in Slovakia killings
The AEJ has played a continuing role in calls for justice and investigation of the killings of Slovak journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancee Martina Kusnirova in February 2018.
The murders sparked massive protests, forced long-term leader Robert Fico to step down as prime minister, and finally ushered in a new government in 2020 with promises to clean up corruption and sleaze.

AEJ helps reverse U.S. journalist visa plan
The AEJ and major global media organisations have helped convince the U.S. government to withdraw a restrictive plan to limit the time foreign journalists and others could stay and work in the USA.

AEJ opposes Italian government plan to jail journalists for defamation
The AEJ and CoE raised an alert in May 2020 on a plan by the Italian government to send journalists to prison when convicted of defamation. A year later in June 2021 Italy’s Constitutional Court ruled against the plan and urged the Italian parliament to legislate a better balance between freedom of expression and the protection of reputation. Media freedom organisations urged the parliament to reform civil and criminal defamation laws in line with international freedom of expression standards.

AEJ Hungary defends media independence
The AEJ Hungarian Section marked World Press Freedom Day on May 3 2021 with a broadside against the Polish government’s attempts to stifle media independence and a fresh call for the European Union to use stronger means to counteract the hostile propaganda of Hungary’s pro-government media.

Hungarian media attack on Austrian journalist
The Council of Europe Platform for the protection and safety of journalists followed the AEJ and other media freedom groups in condemning the Hungarian government for a serious attack on media freedom after a Hungarian state television broadcast which attacked an Austrian journalist for asking “provocative questions” and questioning her integrity and professionalism.

AEJ calls for independent investigation into murder of Athens journalist
The AEJ called for the Greek authorities to “conduct an urgent, independent and effective” investigation into the killing of prominent Greek crime reporter Giorgos Karaivaz in Athens on April 9 2021.

AEJ condemns attack on Kosovo investigative journalist
The AEJ and other media freedom groups condemned a targeted assault on investigative journalist Visar Duriqi in Kosovo after a late-night ambush attack near his home in February 2021.

AEJ supports Alexei Navalny’s rights
The AEJ monitored the health of jailed Russian Opposition leader Alexei Navalny before he ended his hunger strike and protested strongly against his jailing as well as against a record wave of arrests, attacks and criminal cases against journalists.

Hungary’s Klubrádió in jeopardy
The AEJ Hungary called for Europe-wide support for Klubrádió, one of the last independent radio stations in Hungary, after the government regulator pulled its licence to broadcast in January 2021.


AEJ supported journalists in Nagorno-Karabakh
The AEJ joined 10 other international media organizations on the Council of Europe Journalists’ Platform to flag concern for the safety of journalists in a 6-week conflict in autumn 2020 between Armenia and Azerbaijan. It was the second warning issued by the AEJ after a statement on October 2 condemned all acts of violence targeting journalists and other media workers.
Peace agreement

AEJ urges U.S. government to drop plan for shorter journalists visas
The AEJ joined 24 global media organisations to support a European Broadcasting Union (EBU) appeal to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to stop a plan that would shorten visas for foreign journalists.

Freedom of expression under growing threat in Turkey
The AEJ joined 10 other international media freedom, journalism and human rights groups to warn of a growing crisis for freedom of expression in Turkey.

Growing dangers to media freedom in Bulgaria
The AEJ Bulgaria was highly critical of growing dangers to media freedom in Bulgaria in its annual media freedom survey.

Continuing struggles
In Hungary the AEJ was among 16 groups which urged the EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager to take action in response to complaints that the Hungarian government has violated EU state aid rules in connection with the state broadcaster.

In Bulgaria the AEJ ned unprovoked violence against a reporter for Radio Free Europe by security guards and delegates at a national conference of the ruling party.

And in The Philippines, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and other NGOs opened a petition calling for The Philippines government to drop all charges and cases against Maria Ressa, winner of the UNESCO World Press Freedom Prize for her courageous work and journalistic leadership and editor of Rappler.


AEJ conference and call for media freedom
The international Association of European Journalists annual conference in December 2019 warned that Europe is no longer a completely safe place for journalists or media freedom.

Call to prioritize media freedom
The AEJ co-signed a letter to the new Council of Europe Secretary-General for upgraded measures to stop criminalizing and demonising journalists, counter the toxic atmosphere of hostility to the media, and stamp out impunity. And it joined the Committee to Protect Journalists and others to ask the new European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to make key media issues a policy priority for the EU.

AEJ Bulgaria calls for ethical journalism
More than one hundred Bulgarian journalists and leading media outlets have called on local politicians to cease legitimising the yellow press that pours praise on those in power and harms all who criticize them while receiving financial incentives to do so.

Media Freedom Promises Not Credible Without Action
The AEJ joined 33 media freedom groups calling on governments to ensure the protection and safety of all journalists and media workers as the first Global Media Freedom Conference opened in London.

Assange case raises major questions
The AEJ monitored the case of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and noted its far-reaching implications for press freedom, the public’s right to know, and public trust in journalism.

Reporters sans Frontieres (RSF) 2019 World Press Freedom Index
The 2019 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF-Reporters Without Borders) showed fewer countries were safe for journalists and an increase in violence and danger. Norway was ranked the safest for the third year running followed by Finland and Sweden. The UK at 33rd remained one of the worst-ranked Western European countries and the United States ranked 48th.

AEJ joins first global media conference
The AEJ joined 33 media freedom groups at the first Global Media Freedom Conference to call on governments for better protection and safety for media workers. 


AEJ calls for justice and investigation in Slovakia murder
The AEJ joined nine other international organisations concerned about press freedom and freedom of expression to call for an investigation into the state authorities in Slovakia over the failure to prevent the mafia-style killing of Slovak investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kusnirova on 21 February 2018. 

AEJ Turkey survey shows more restrictions on the media
The AEJ Turkey’s annual survey of press freedom with other members of the joint G-9 press freedom Platform reported 145 journalists still in jail for their work in Turkey and further actions by the government to stifle the ability of the media to inform the public.

Press freedom solidarity mission to Slovakia calls for full justice over Jan Kuciak’s murder

The AEJ joined eight other partner organisations on the safety of journalists to press the Slovak government to bring all those responsible for the murder of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée to justice – and to make legal and policy reforms to ensure the personal safety of journalists as well as their contacts or sources.

AEJ joins call for justice for Jamal Khashoggi
The AEJ joined the Journalist Support Committee (JSC) to call for justice and a full investigation into the death of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey in October 2018.

Rule of law failing in Europe?
The AEJ raised questions about how well the rule of law is working inside Europe in the wake of the killing of two journalists – in Malta and Slovakia.

AEJ joins plea for media freedom in Turkey
The AEJ joined 17 press freedom and media organizations to sign and publish an open letter to the president of Turkey to reverse the drastic decline in freedom of expression and press freedom there.
Erdogan wins re-election

Spotlight on Turkey’s breach of international obligations
Reporters Without Borders challenged the UK prime minister to hold Turkey to its democratic obligations as protests marked President Erdogan’s London visit in May 2018.

Turkey faces further loss of independent media
Turkey’s largest media group sold its outlets to a business group close to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in March 2018 – news outlets that were among the few remaining relatively independent media.

Is Anywhere Safe?
AEJ international media freedom representative and UK chairman William Horsley reported on how Commonwealth leaders meeting in London in April 2018 had turned a blind eye to journalists being threatened or killed with impunity in member states.

Fake News undermines democracy
The AEJ issued a road map on how to respond to fake news in a detailed consultation by Irina Nedeva, AEJ adviser on fake news issues, with input from the AEJ-UK’s William Horsley, former BBC Europe correspondent, and Rick Thompson, former BBC News executive. 

Poland, media freedom and Lech Walesa
Poland, the cradle of the Soviet Union collapse, was once again a frontline in the fight for press freedom in Europe as Lech Walesa – former Solidarity leader, president of Poland, and Nobel Prize winner – urged a gathering of journalists in February 2018 to hold fast to press freedom and free speech.

Concern about investigation into Maltese journalist’s murder
The AEJ joined its partners in January in the Council of Europe Platform for the Promotion of Journalism and the Protection of Journalists to express deep concern over the lack of progress in the investigation into the murder of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.