…CPJ meets with EU officials, calls for press freedom
Adelegation from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) last week met with senior European Union officials, including European Vice President Frans Timmermans and urged them to ensure EU institutions uphold press freedom in member states.
In a statement by media contact and EU Representative, Tom Gibson, the delegation included Kati Marton, Hungarian-American journalist and author and a CPJ board member, Tom Gibson, CPJ’s Brussels-based EU representative, and Shazdeh Omari, CPJ’s senior program officer.
The team met with eight EU officials and called on them to ensure the safety of journalists working in EU countries: in Poland, where journalists face legal threats, and in Malta and Slovakia where investigative journalists Daphne Caruana Galizia and Ján Kuciak were murdered in the past year.
CPJ also highlighted dangers to press freedom in Hungary, where Prime Minister Viktor Orbán was elected last Sunday for a third term.
“Orbán continues to defy all EU norms and stifle free expression. Sunday’s election results confirm that the opposition never had a chance as it was robbed of the oxygen of a free and fair media,” said CPJ Board Member Kati Marton. In an hour-long meeting with Commission Vice President Timmermans on Tuesday, CPJ urged him to apply pressure on Poland and support critical journalists there and in Hungary. Timmermans told CPJ that a democracy cannot exist without independent journalism. CPJ also urged him to continue calling for thorough investigations into Caruana Galizia and Kuciak’s murders, as press freedom groups have documented that investigative journalists in Europe are facing risks each day while doing their jobs.
CPJ also called on Timmermans to issue a directive against Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs) that would protect journalists from being forced to pay exorbitant legal fees designed to burden them financially and silence their criticism.
The delegation also met with Hungary’s permanent representative, Olivér Várhelyi, to discuss press freedom following the recent re-election of Orbán.
CPJ aired its concerns, including about the vital role of independent journalism in the country, and Várhelyi asked CPJ to share research with his office.