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Dear <<First Name>> <<Last Name>>
 
Corona virus has taken its toll on Europe. The damage is measured not only in terms of deaths and disease but also in jobs lost, news outlets closed and press freedom violations

So when Hungary’s Viktor Orbàn threatens to veto the European Union (EU)’s COVID-19 rescue plan if it makes financial support conditional on the rule of law, that’s a problem for the whole of Europe. Our Legal Opinion, now published in Hungarian, sets out clearly how Orbàn’s decrees restricted press freedom.
 
That's one reason why Hungary is under scrutiny from the EU’s Section 7 dialogue. So is Poland, where political interference in Public Service Media is a continuing cause for concern, alongside the regular use of SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) actions against independent media outlets. As part of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) we have offered legal support for the opposition newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza who are defending no fewer than 55 lawsuits.
 
Still it would be unfair to only single out Poland and Hungary. Threats to the independence of Slovenia’s public broadcaster are distorting coverage and the Greek newspaper Documento is also fighting a barrage of lawsuits, and critical news outlets are being starved of Covid-19 relief funds. On the streets of Serbia, journalists and photographers are paying a high price for media freedom. Over four days, protestors and police officers mounted assaults on media workers during protests against the state’s lockdown policies. In Malta, at least five media outlets were threatened by the US- and UK-based lawyers of a British-Azeri business owner.
 
With so many new violations of press and media freedom it’s encouraging to know that we have help at hand through the Media Freedom Rapid Response. You can now get information in eleven languages on what we offer journalists and media workers in EU Member States and Candidate Countries, including practical support, which can cover anything from a steel door to protect the newsroom to a batch of facemasks to safeguard reporters' health. If you are facing legal threats we also offer legal support to ensure you can access representation and advice to defend yourself and your journalistic work.

Unfortunately, OSCE's Representative for Media Freedom, Harlem Désir's mandate will come to an end at the end of July after Azerbaijan and Tajikistan blocked the renewal. We sent a statement of support and we thank him for all his efforts for media freedom across Europe.
 
We can applaud some pushbacks, too: our Spanish member Plataforma en Defensa de la Libertad de Información (PDLI), together with Article 19, ECPMF and others, are giving oral evidence today at the United Nations Periodic Review. Following a huge turnout of 200 media freedom defenders at her trial for allegedly “justifying terrorism“, freelancer Svetlana Prokopyeva  avoided a jail term of six years and a crowdfunder has been set up to enable anyone anywhere to help her pay the fine. In the United Kingdom, police investigating the murder of journalist Lyra McKee have made an arrest. The 27-year old man arrested is being charged with the possession of a firearm.
 
If you know of other successful pushbacks, do get in touch. We are not only here for the bad news, and every positive result gives more power to human rights defenders.
 
All the best
Jane
Mapping Media Freedom
You can report incidents directly and confidentially to our interactive map. They will be checked by our network of grassroot experts and trigger actions by the Media Freedom Rapid Response. Recent alerts include a threat against Tanja Milevska, MIA Agency, based in Brussels, who was threaened and harrassed via twitter in relation to her coverage of the election campaign in North Macedonia. And a blow on the head to Serbian photojournalist Miloš Miškov of the Beta news agency, pictured here by his colleague Aleksandar Levajkovic. Mišov was treated in hospital. He was one of at least 24 media workers who were attacked by protestors or police during five days of demonstrations against the Vucic in the capital Belgrade and in Nis and Novi Sad. You can find recent alerts here.
Media Freedom Rapid Response offers help
Do you know a journalist or media worker in need of help – to pay for lawyer's fees, to replace broken equipment or to recover from a physical and mental burnout because of stress? Get help here in your language.
DEADLINE EXTENDED:
We also help the helpers in Germany with the help of Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media (BKM), because working with traumatised journalists and whistleblowers can produce 'secondary trauma' that needs specialist therapy to help them cope with it. Apply here before 22 July if you or someone you know would benefit from this support.
IJ4EU fund awards €460,000 to 11 investigative projects
An independent jury has chosen 11 cross-border journalism projects for funding under the first of two calls this year for the Investigation Support Scheme of the IJ4EU fund. Find here the results of the first call of our support scheme for new cross-border investigations.
We're hiring!
Unjust lawsuits that aim to silence critical reporting are the weapon of choice for corrupt business owners, criminals and crooked politicians across Europe. They are everywhere, as the EU Corruption Minister Laura Kovesi noted in her report. We call them SLAPPs (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) and we need help to research and challenge them. For more details of this exciting new role check the job description here.
News from our networks
Crisis at the Commission: the Bureau of investigative Journalism tracks the EU’s top-level response to the COVID-19 outbreak. To find out what they can reveal click here.

Alarm bells in Italy: Interior Ministry reports more attacks on journalists in the first six months of 2020 than in the whole of 2019. Details from Ossigeno per l’informazione.


North Macedonia’s new government must address press freedom violations. Read Ilcho Cvetanoski’s analysis here and check out the attack on a journalist covering the election.
 
Dates for your diary
The next IJ4EU call for Investigation Support opens in August. In the meantime teams of cross-border investigative journalists can apply to the IJ4EU Publication Support Scheme
 
Free Press Unlimited's Award is open until August. Full details of how to apply here
If you spot a press freedom violation, please sound the alarm!
Donate now to help ECPMF keep up the good work
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The European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) is a non-profit organisation that was founded in Leipzig, Germany, 2015. It operates on the basis of  the European Charter on Freedom of the Press and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. The vision of the Centre is a society where media freedom enables open discourse and everyone can seek, receive and impart information. ECPMF’s mission is to promote, preserve and defend media freedom. We do this by monitoring violations, providing practical support and engaging diverse stakeholders across Europe. We lead the Mapping Media Freedom Response (MFRR) mechanism.


The ECPMF is supported by: European Commission, Media Foundation of Sparkasse Leipzig, Free State of Saxony, the City of Leipzig and diverse project funding.

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European Centre for Press and Media Freedom SCE ltd

Menckestraße 27
04155 Leipzig, Germany

Phone: +49 341 200 403 13
E-Mail: info@ecpmf.eu

Cooperative register of the District Court Leipzig: GnR 534

Executive Board:  
Henrik Kaufholz (Chair),
Stephan Seeger, 
Ljiljana Smajlović,
Mogens Blicher Bjerregårds, 
Galina Arapova

Chair of Supervisory Board:
Lucie Sýkorová

Managing Director: 
Dr Lutz Kinkel

www.ecpmf.eu