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Home arrow In Brief arrow CoE Human Rights Commissioner Muizinieks: Protect Journalists from Attacks to Muzzle on Issues !

CoE Human Rights Commissioner Muizinieks: Protect Journalists from Attacks to Muzzle on Issues !

Pisac ACM
05. 06. 2012.
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* "Journalists need Protection" from various "Attacks", "including in Europe",  seeking "Censorship" against "Democracy", strongly declared the New PanEuropean Commissioner on Human Rights, Niels Muiznieks (2012-2018), just a few days after he replied to "EuroFora"s questions Internet Media Freedom and ECHR's Future (See: http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/coehumanrightscommissioneronwebmedia.html ), and the same Day that CoE's Committee of Ministers just started in Strasbourg to examine a crucial Semestrial meeting on ECHR judgements' application by all 47 Member States, including a review of numerous serious cases of Violations of Human Rights by Turkey (such as Torture, Murders, Arbitrary deprivations of Liberty, abusive Imprisonment, Harassments and/or Censorship,  "Missing" People, etc, most Dating since the 1990ies, but partly "freezed" since 2009), notoriously pending for execution since too many years,  in an interesting, well documented Viewpoint that "EuroFora" exceptionaly re-publishes, at variance to our general rule on Original only Journalism in News Reporting.

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- The "intention" generaly is "to Shut them up and make them Stop doing their job, which can involve exposing Corruption, Abuse of power or Discrimination against various minorities. Media freedom is the lifeblood of a Democracy, as it is an essential prerequisite for other Freedoms as well, such as freedom of association or assembly", he denounced.


- Because "attacks on journalists are not like many other assaults, where the motive is frequently materialistic or racism. These are Political Attacks. As the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatovic´, has recently written, “violence against journalists [..] remains a Special category of Crime, as it is a direct attack on Society and Democracy itself”.

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- That's why, all CoE's Member "States have a positive obligation to create a favourable environment for journalists to express their opinions without fear, no matter how uncomfortable those opinions may sometimes be to those with economic, cultural or political power", Muisnieks made it clear, citing the landmark "Dink v. Turkey judgment of the European Court of Human Rights", condemning Ankara on the ill-elucidated cold blood Murder of Armenian origin Web and paper Journalist Hrant Dink, (Comp. "EuroFora"s specific NewsReport on Dink's case at the ECHR, published since October 2010).


=> Therefore, "Governments and politicians need to signal very strongly that such Attacks are unacceptable and will not go unpunished. They need to initiate prompt, thorough and transparent Investigations and bring perpetrators to justice, where punishments should reflect the seriousness of this crime. If journalists have been threatened, the authorities should act quickly to protect them", CoE's New Human Rights Commissioner (2012-2018) stressed.


- Since, "even if a government does not engage in “old-fashioned” Censorship by screening and filtering media content, it can be involved in censorship if it does not take sufficient steps to combat violence against journalists. Impunity encourages repetition, which can be extremely damaging to free expression", he warned. For this reason, "a recent guidebook on the safety of journalists by the OSCE ... stresse(s) that “physical attacks and Threats of violence or Harm against journalists and members of their Family represent an extreme form of Censorship”.

- Indeed, "Journalism is a Dangerous profession, including in Europe", CoE's New PanEuropean Commissioner on Human Rights, responsible for 47 Countries, found on June 2012 :


 - Among many other, older examples, only "since the beginning of this year (2012), journalists have suffered physical Attacks in Azerbaijan on a number of occasions, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania and Russia.. ..What were these journalist-victims reporting on? In Azerbaijan, the story was the demolition of houses and evictions of residents for government sponsored urban redevelopment. In Romania and Russia, it was anti-government demonstrations. In France and Germany, it was Turkish-language media outlets reporting on the Kurdish minority in Turkey. In Italy, it was stories focusing on Mafia affairs. In Montenegro, it was a journalist probing shady dealings in a tobacco plant", (etc), he noted, pointing at the Diversity of "Hot" issues which may be covered by certain Media.


 - "Often, the perpetrators of the attacks are unknown assailants, usually several masked men, but sometimes they have been riot police or state sponsored security guards". But  "the attackers knew that their victims were journalists, who were sometimes wearing press badges or held cameras in their hands. In another case, the perpetrators mentioned the employer of the journalist as they beat him. In Latvia, in a brutally symbolic move, the assailants put a knife in the journalist’s mouth and sliced his cheek, grossly disfiguring him", he denounced.


- "A 1st Step is for Governments to treat violence targeting journalists as attacks against the core of our Democracies", and, therefore, "with the utmost Seriousness", Muiznieks urged.


- Because, f.ex.,  "those of us who witnessed the end of the Soviet Union remember well how glasnost’ or increased openness and Media liberalisation opened the floodgates for the emergence of Civil Society and political Pluralism" in Russia, he observed the Baltic-origin experienced European Top Official, as a Positive Change regarding Human Rights and Democracy, to be further developed and followed also elsewhere, mutatis-mutandis.

***

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    Before the end of 2009, France and Germany will take strong initiatives to open "new Horizons" needed by Europe and the World, going well beyond the current Crisis' management, anounced French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angie Merkel, reassuring that both a judgement on Lisbon Treaty by nearby Karlsruhe German Federal Court, and the forthcoming National Elections in Germany would confirm their capacity to act.    

They were replying to Press questions in Berlin, after key-regional elections on Sunday, where Merkel's ChristianDemocratic party kept everywhere a strong 1st and won the possibility to forge a New Majority with Liberals at the largest of 3 Landers : Saxony (4 millions inhabitants), while its main competitor, the Socialdemocrat party fell to unprecedented lows : Tackled by the small "Linke" (left) party in Saarland (1 million inhabitants), it became even smaller than it in Saxony and Thuringen (3 million inhabitants), where SPD arrived only third. While its usual partners, the "Greens" also fell down, contrary to CDU's new partners, the FDP Liberals, who go up.

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    - "At any case, at the end of the year (2009), if things go as scheduled, we shall take strong initiatives, showing that Europe needs a Franco-German axis, as well as the World, even if it never excludes other" countries to join, replied Sarkozy to a question if France and Germany will revive the "European dream", by "relauncing the EU motor" for the Future, with actions going further than the mere management of the global crisis, (as it was done fex. in the Past with the creation of the "Euro" Monetary zone, etc).

    - "I am convinced that the Franco-German friendship must be constantly nourished by New Projects", he added."There are many areas of cooperation where we intend to take, very soon, some Franco-German initiatives, which will allow to open more Horizons" to the EU, Sarkozy stressed.

    But if "we don't speak about that now, it's only in order to avoid interfering in important elections coming in Germany", he observed. However, "we have already started to consider the Future with the (German) Chancellor, and what we can do in order to honour our predecessors". "We are already speaking about that, and we are preparing things". "I am working very well together with Mrs Merkel, and I wish that it goes on", Sarkozy concluded.

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    - "It's important for EU's credibility that France and Germany advance forward together", stressed Merkel from the outset. "Don't worry about Germany's capacity to undertake initiatives" with France, she added. "France and Germany will be perfectly able to make proposals" for the EU.

    -  "After-crisis" plans must be prepared, meanwhile, with measures "advancing progressively", Merkel anounced. And, for the short term, we must deal also with EU Citizens' dismay since they feel that it's a Scandal for some in the Financial Markets to be paid with excessive "Bonuses", etc, she agreed with Sarkozy.

    - "Abuses in financial markets must stop", stressed also Sarkozy. Backing Merkel's announcement that France and Germany call for an EU meeting to forge "a crystal-clear European position" in view of the G-14 Summit at Pittsburg, he warned that "everyone will have to undertake his responsibilities, in front of World's Public Opinion. particularly those who don't want to make the same effort of regulation as France and Germany".

    Moreover, "Global Trade cannot be correctly dealt, without taking into account also Environmental and Social rules", Sarkozy added, referring to recently expressed positions against Unfair Competition via Environmental and/or Social Dumping, (See earlier "EuroFora"'s publications).

    Such moves are obviously linked to the need to ensure at least an elementary respect for Human Rights by Third Countries, (f.ex. exploitation of Children's work, etc) in order to avoid, precisely, any such Social Dumping.

    - "EU has Values, protecting Human Rights and Human Dignity", and "it cannot close its eyes" in front of grave violations, particularly "Torture and/or killings", added, indeed, Sarkozy.

    Thus, "the time comes, where decisions must be taken". But, in case of "Sanctions", "all International opinion should be convinced of the need to take action", he observed.

    Expressed on the occasion of recent developments in Iran, the same principles should logically apply also to other similar cases, including fex. that of Hundreds of ECHR judgements' condemning f;ex. Turkey for grave crimes, (as Torture, brutal Killings, Enforced "Disappearances", Destruction of Family Homes, harassments and oppressive violations of Freedom of Speech, etc).

    Meanwhile, questioned on (EU Commission's chair)  Barroso's bid to succeed himself for a second mandate, they both expressed a "wish" or a "feeling" that "EU Parliament"'s various political Groups might fix a date for decisions "during September". However, is he is endorsed before the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, it will be legally necessary to re-vote anew for a full term of office afterwards, according to EU Legal Experts, revealed recently in Strasbourg the experienced former President of EU Parliament's Constitutional Committee, German Socialist MEP Jo Leinen. And Germany will not vote for Lisbon Treaty's ratification but only "on September 8 and 18", revealed Merkel, ( i.e. after EU Parliament's plenary session in Strasbourg).

    - Therefore, "for EU Commissioners' appointment, it's too early yet, because we must wait for the ratification of Lisbon Treaty" by all 27 EU Member countries, including naturally Ireland's Referendum on early October, said to "EuroFora" the influential President of EU Parliament's largest group of MEPs, Joseph Daul, expressing, however, the hope that a controversial deal with the head of the Socialist Group of MEPs, Martin Schultz of Germany, might hold for Barroso alone, at a forthcoming vote due to fix the Strasbourg plenary's Agenda.

    But MEPs reportedly just "postponed" for 1 week all their previously scheduled group meetings (See : http://www.euractiv.com/en/future-eu/barroso-unveil-summer-homework-week/article-184825 );

    However, while the choice of a new EU Commission's President by EU Parliament is supposed, according to many MEPs' wish, take place according to EU policy issues, paradoxically, this would mean that Barroso's bid would pass before even the anouncement of France and Germany's "initiatives" for EU's "new Horizons"...

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