Media Monitors Report Decline in Global Press Freedom
When journalists and media rights activists gather in Helsinki to mark World Press Freedom day Tuesday, there will be a notable absence: Journalist Khadija Ismayilova, recipient of this year’s UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize, is currently serving a 7.5-year sentence in Azerbaijan for her work exposing government corruption.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) says some 200 journalists like Khadija are currently jailed across the world. And prison isn’t the only way that governments co-opt or suppress the media.
Thai journalist Pravit Rojanaphruk was also invited to Helsinki, but the ruling military junta has banned him from leaving the country – a small price to be paid, he recently wrote, “as journalists elsewhere face long-term detention or even assassination.
Global press freedom has fallen to its lowest point in more than a decade, notes Freedom House in its latest annual report, which scores 199 countries and territories, democracies and autocracies. “Only 13 percent of the world’s population enjoys a free press—that is, where coverage of political news is robust, the safety of journalists is guaranteed, state intrusion in media affairs is minimal, and the press is not subject to onerous legal or economic pressures,” the report finds.
EU Visa Block Threatens EU-Turkey Migrant Deal
Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe, as part of the deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to crack down on the smugglers and keep the migrants on Turkish soil.
However, many European lawmakers have threatened to use their veto on the visa issue to block the migrant deal.
European Union figures show just over 26,000 refugees arrived on the Greek islands in March — less than half of February's total. EU officials point to those numbers as proof that the deal with Ankara is working.
Turkey says it is on track to meet all the criteria laid down by Europe ahead of the June deadline — and insists visa-free travel is a non-negotiable part of the migrant deal.
But in Germany, analysts say fears over a wave of Kurdish asylum seekers from Turkey are driving up anti-immigration support.
While right-wing politicians look to benefit from fears of migration, some lawmakers in Brussels have threatened to try to block the deal with Turkey over human rights concerns.
Amnesty International accuses Ankara of forcefully returning hundreds of unregistered refugees back to Syria — and even of shooting Syrians trying to cross the border illegally.