January 5, 2024

05.01.2024 – Press Freedom Alert: According to EFJ 108 Journalists in Europe Incarcerated on New Year’s Eve, SEEMO Calls for Urgent Measures

On 1 January 2024, as reported by the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) (https://europeanjournalists.org/) and the Council of Europe’s Platform for the Protection of Journalism (https://fom.coe.int/en/accueil), it was revealed that 108 journalists were in custody in European prisons.

Despite a slight decrease in the overall number of detained journalists in Europe compared to the previous year (from 124 to 108), certain nations experienced a noticeable increase in repression. Notably, Russia became the country with the highest number of imprisoned journalists in Europe, totaling 40 journalists in Russia and on the by Russia-occupied parts of Ukraine.

Maja Sever, President of the EFJ, voiced apprehension, remarking, “The number of imprisoned journalists in Europe is nearly on par with the combined figures in China and Iran.” The recent upswing in arrests in Azerbaijan, designed to intimidate journalists, is a source of concern, and the EFJ urges the immediate release of journalists detained solely for carrying out their professional duties.

According to the EFJ’s list of 108 journalists Belarus saw 32 journalists detained, Russia had 23 on its territory and 17 on the occupied territory in Ukraine, Turkey had 19, Azerbaijan had 15, Poland had one, and the United Kingdom had one. This information is in accordance with EFJ’s findings. You can view the full list here: https://europeanjournalists.org/blog/2024/01/01/104-journalists-spent-new-years-eve-in-prison-in-europe/.

ccording to numbers published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) number of journalists detained as of 29 December 2023 was 39 in Belarus, 29 in Russia, 7 in Azerbaijan, 5 in Turkey 5, 2 in Turkmenistan, and 4 in Uzbekistan

The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) strongly condemns the alarming situation where journalists spent New Year’s Eve in European prisons.

SEEMO expresses deep concern over the rise in repression. SEEMO calls on national governments to take immediate and effective measures to uphold press freedom, protect journalists, and release those detained solely for performing their crucial journalistic duties. This worrisome trend underscores the pressing need for concerted efforts to ensure a free and safe environment for media professionals across Europe. All journalists in jail must become free immediately in all countries.

South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) is a regional non-governmental, non-profit network of editors, media executives, and leading journalists in Southeast, South, East and Central Europe. SEEMO members are in Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Moldova (with the territory of Transdnestria), Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Türkiye / Turkey, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Austria, Italy, the Vatican, and San Marino have a special status in SEEMO. SEEMO has over 3000 individual members, and additional media as corporate members.

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