Tag Archives: freedom of speech

Malta: MEPs monitor investigation

Brussels 29.04.2021 In a resolution adopted on Thursday, April 29, with 635 votes for, 46 against and 12 abstentions, the European Parliament takes stock of developments in the case of Daphne Caruana Galizia and other related investigations, following the testimony of convicted criminal Vincent Muscat.

Expressing deep concern about the possible involvement of ministers and political appointees in the murder case, MEPs urge the government to bring to justice all those implicated in all cases brought to light by the journalist. MEPs monitor investigation.

MEPs acknowledge the progress made in the murder investigation and other, related cases of corruption and money laundering, “albeit greatly delayed”, and call for the search to go beyond the previous prime minister’s chief of staff, including on possible attempts by public officials to conceal evidence and obstruct investigations and judicial proceedings. All allegations of corruption and fraud should be investigated and prosecuted “with the appropriate rigour and at the appropriate level”, they underline.

There are serious and persistent threats to EU values in the country, including media freedom, judicial and police independence, and the freedom of assembly, though MEPs note that the Government of Malta has made some progress in relation to the rule of law and judicial independence. The launch of the structural reform project is welcome, they say, given the ‘deep corruption patterns’ identified by the Commission in its 2020 Rule of Law Report. MEPs acknowledge the steps taken by the Maltese authorities to protect independent journalism, stressing that further improvements are needed, and calling on the Maltese authorities to implement the EU whistle-blower directive.

Parliament is deeply concerned about the harmful impact of citizenship and residence schemes on the integrity of EU citizenship, and reiterates its call on the Maltese government to assure transparency and terminate its schemes. It is also asking the Commission to propose anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) legislation to protect independent European media from vexatious lawsuits intended to silence or intimidate them – a step that MEPs have been calling for since 2018.

Maltese anti-corruption investigative journalist and blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered on 16 October 2017. She reported on government corruption, allegations of money laundering, and organised crime. Parliament launched the Daphne Caruana Galizia Prize for Journalism in October 2020, on the third anniversary of her death, for “outstanding journalism reflecting EU values”.

Bring to justice all those implicated in cases brought to light by Daphne Caruana Galizia:
– Serious threats against EU values, though some progress being made
– Step up fight against fraud and corruption.

The latest revelations about the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia are of great concern, in particular the possible involvement of ministers and political appointees.

Russia: Latvia Meduza news ‘Foreign Agent’

Brussels 26.04.2021 Russia has announced the independent news website Meduza a “foreign agent,” the Justice Ministry confirmed on 23 April amid what critics call the Kremlin’s continuing crackdown on freedom of speech.
A statement on the ministry’s website said the decision, which also includes the Moscow-based Pasmi (“First Anti-Corruption Media”) news site, was made “in compliance with the requirements of Russian law.”
Meduza editorial said it does not accept the decision and would challenge it in court. (Image above: Riga, Latvia).

Meduza began publishing out of Latvia in 2014 after its then-chief-editor Galina Timchenko left Russia, and reportedly the media received about $250,000 from the former head of Yukos, Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky. This is stated in the report of the Latvian edition.

With a staff of 23 people based in Riga and Russia, Meduza publishes on a website and a mobile phone app, and is already racking up 2.5 million unique visitors a month.

Russia’s 2012 foreign agent law initially targeted media outlets and civil society groups, subsidised from abroad, especially within the jurisdiction of NATO allies. It has in recent years been expanded to include individual journalists and any foreign-funded persons or entities.
Individuals and groups labeled as foreign agents are required to report their activities and face heavy financial audits. Other media outlets are also required to clearly label the designated entities as “foreign agents.”

Russian lawmakers are also considering legislation banning foreign agents from running for federal office.
Statement of the EU by the Spokesperson on labelling Meduza as “foreign agent”:

“We reject the decision by the Russian authorities to include independent media outlet Meduza on the list of “foreign agents”.

It is the European Union’s longstanding position that the so-called ‘foreign agent’ law contributes to a systematic infringement of basic freedoms, and restricts civil society, independent media and the rights of political opposition in Russia. Democracy is a universal value that includes respect for human rights as enshrined in international law.

It is extremely concerning that Russian authorities continue to restrict the work of independent media platforms, as well as individual journalists and other media actors. It goes against Russia’s international obligations and human rights commitments.

It is the duty of media to report on issues of public interest, and it is the obligation of the state authorities to ensure they can do so in an atmosphere free of fear and intimidation.”

Russian authorities consider Meduza to be a news media, produced within jurisdiction of another state, thus “foreign agent”.

Russia: G7 condemn Navalny detention

“We, the G7 Foreign Ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States of America and the High Representative of the European Union, are united in condemning the politically motivated arrest and detention of Alexei Navalny’ reads the G7 Foreign Ministers’ statement on arrest and detention of the Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny.

“We are also deeply concerned by the detention of thousands of peaceful protesters and journalists, and call upon Russia to adhere to its national and international obligations and release those detained arbitrarily for exercising their right of peaceful assembly on 23 January. The violent suppression by police forces of the right of individuals to express their opinion is unacceptable. These events confirm a continuous negative pattern of shrinking space for the opposition, civil society, human rights defenders and independent voices in Russia.  

“It is deplorable that Mr Navalny is being detained in relation to court decisions which the European Court of Human Rights determined in 2017 to be arbitrary and manifestly unreasonable. We the G7 Foreign Ministers call upon the Russian authorities for Mr Navalny’s immediate and unconditional release.  Russia is bound by its national and international obligations to respect and ensure human rights.  

“G7 Foreign Ministers recall their condemnation, in the strongest possible terms, of the poisoning of Mr Navalny in August 2020 with a chemical nerve-agent of the “Novichok” group, a substance developed by Russia.

“We reiterate that any use of chemical weapons is unacceptable and contravenes international norms against the use of such weapons.  We, the G7 Foreign Ministers, again urge the Russian authorities to investigate and credibly explain the use of a chemical weapon on its soil in the light of Russia’s obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention.

“The confirmed use of chemical weapons against an opposition politician, as well as Mr Navalny’s latest detention further undermine democracy, independent voices, and political plurality in Russia. We urge Russia to fulfill its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and to guarantee the rights it sets forth, including the right to freedom of expression, to all individuals within its territory and jurisdiction.

“We will continue to monitor closely Russia’s response to international calls for the immediate release of Mr Navalny and any protesters and journalists who have been detained arbitrarily, as well as a criminal investigation into Mr Navalny’s poisoning. We remain strongly committed to the Chemical Weapons Convention, and to our support for democracy, the rule of law and human rights in Russia, as well as to bolstering our support to Russian civil society.”

EP: Homage to Samuel Paty

President of the European Parliament David Sassoli led a minute of silence to pay tribute to murdered teacher Samuel Paty and all victims of terrorism, at the opening of the session.
Expressing his condolences to the family of Samuel Paty, a history and geography teacher brutally murdered by an Islamist terrorist in France on Friday, October 16, Sassoli paid tribute to all those who work to uphold freedom of expression.

“Deeply shocked by the appalling attack by #ConflansSainteHonorine. We stand alongside our French friends and the victim’s family. Hate and violence, terrorism and extremism will never overcome freedom and democracy” wrote on his Twitter micro blog the head of the EU diplomacy Josep Borrell.

French minister of Interior Gérarld Darmanin said a fatwa appeared to have been issued against Samuel Paty, a 47-year-old teacher of history and geography who was decapitated on October 16 outside the school in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, a community in 30 km from the capital.

As part of a course on freedom of expression this month, as the previous years, Paty had shown pupils the caricatures including two of the prophet Muhammad published by the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, that was the target of a 2015 Islamist attack.

Police shot dead Paty’s attacker, an 18-year-old of Chechen origin named as Abdullakh Anzorov.

A photo of the teacher’s decapitated head was posted to Twitter from Anzorov’s mobile phone, along with the message: “I have executed one of the dogs from hell who dared to put Muhammad down.” At present 15 people related to the terrorist act of beheading of the teacher are arrested.

Lavrov: journalist Vyshinky case “absurd”

Russian Minister of Foreign affairs Sergey Lavrov  reiterated Moscow demands of respect of his human rights and immediate liberation of journalist Kirill Vyshinky (pictured) arrested in Ukraine.

The trial in the case of the RIA Novosti Ukraine chief editor resembles the theater of the absurd. There is no doubt that the journalist was arrested illegally, only because he worked for a Russian media outlet and honestly covered current developments. Ukrainian prosecutors seem to understand it as they have been postponing hearings, citing the need to study the case files,Lavrov said to Aif newspaper.

Our diplomats maintain contacts with his lawyers as Ukraine failed to provide us with access to the journalist himself. We are doing our best, working with foreign partners, particularly on international platforms, encouraging them to influence Kiev so that a positive solution can be foundLavrov concluded.

Kiev’s Podolsky District Court postponed the hearing of the Vyshinsky case to July 19.

Vyshinsky was arrested in Kiev  by the Ukrainian Security Service  (SBU) on 15 May 2018.  Being under arrest, on On 1 June 2018, he said in court: “I declare my withdrawal from my Ukrainian citizenship — from this moment I consider myself only a citizen of Russia.”

Jagland raises concerns about journalist Golunov case

 

 

 

The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland, has made the following statement with regard to the situation of investigative journalist Ivan Golunov in Russia:

I am very much concerned and saddened by reports coming from Moscow alleging that investigative journalist Ivan Golunov was subjected to violence and injured by police forces while in custody in a Moscow police station.

Violence by police during investigation procedures is absolutely prohibited by Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, to which the Russian Federation is party.

Moreover, the fact that Mr Golunov claims that evidence against him was manipulated raises even greater suspicion over the current situation.

Taking into account the particular gravity of the alleged facts, I call on the Minister of Interior of the Russian Federation, Mr Kolokoltsev, to personally address this situation.

I also hope that Human Rights Commissioner Moskalkova will look into these allegations.

Freedom of expression and the right to security are fundamental in a democratic society and law enforcement bodies must also defend these values.”

Spokesperson of the European External Action Service also made a statement, underlining that the European Union relevant institutuios follows closely the case of journalist Godunov, arrested in Moscow.

AMENDMENT:

British Forign Secretary Jeremy Hunt made a statement via his Twitter microblog on the arrest of Ivan Golunov. He also mentioned “fear of retribution” among  negative effects on practice of investigative journalism in Russia in general.

AMENDEMNET:

According to Golunov’s lawyer Chikov claims his client suffered from police brutalty, being beaten at his arrival to custody. He added paramedics suspected Golunov had suffered broken ribs, bruising and a concussion, and that “police chiefs” were refusing his hospitalisation

AMENDEMENT

Today the international organisation Reporters without borders (RSF) launched  mobiliseation to manifest in front of Russian Embassy in Paris, demanding liberation of Golunov, and dropping all charges against him.

 

AMENDEMENT

Manning denied release on bail

Former US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning will remain in prison after a federal appeals court denied her request to be released on bail, and upheld a lower court’s decision to hold Manning in civil contempt for refusing to give evidence before grand jury.

The ruling is a blow to Manning, who was arrested in March after  declining to answer questions in connection with the government’s long-running investigation into Wikileaks and its Australian founder Julian Assange.

In a comment released by a spokesperson, Manning said that while disappointing, the appeals court ruling will still allow to “raise issues as the government continues to abuse the grand jury process”.

I don’t have anything to contribute to this, or any other grand jury,” Manning added.

Mogherini to counter disinformation

At January Foreign Affairs Council participants discussed the action plan against disinformation presented earlier (5.12.018).

Ministers exchanged views on the implementation of the action plan, focusing on its external aspects. They underlined the need to build a common and holistic response to the security challenges posed by foreign interference, while respecting national approaches and protecting freedom of expression and of the media.

They highlighted the creation of an EU “Rapid Alert System to share expertise and best practices, and to promote coordinated action, notably through awareness raising campaigns. Ministers stressed the need to engage with civil society to tackle disinformation, including with CSOs, NGOs, business and academia, as well as to work with international partners, in particular NATO and the G7, to address disinformation more efficiently. They also underlined the importance of contributing to strengthening the resilience of neighboring countries.

First of all, our work on disinformation, to counter disinformation coming from outside the European Union. This is a work we are doing together with the different institutions – we have put together an Action Plan that we presented already at the end of last year – and that is now subject to a common work for the implementation that requires a stronger determination and inputs also from our Member States”, the EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini said, while commenting on Foreign Ministers Council agenda.

We discussed with the Foreign Ministers their side of the work and ways in which we can do better in this respect. Obviously, in particular in view of the European Parliament elections, but there was a very strong focus on the need to look at all different kind of disinformation that come from within, from outside the European Union, and in different forms. We decided to move forward together, at full speed, with a lot of determination, and implement the Action Plan we have put forward” Mogherini added.

“European mandarins will decide for you what is truth. Brrrr”, wrote Belgium politician Theo Frnacken.

Twitter bans InfoWars accounts

Twitter has permanently banned accounts of TV host Alex Jones and InfoWars from the platform, the company said in a statement.

According to the company, Jones accounts violated the company’s rules. The ban comes weeks after Jones was banned or suspended by other major tech companies like Apple, Facebook and YouTube.

“We took this action based on new reports of Tweets and videos posted yesterday that violate our abusive behavior policy, in addition to the accounts’ past violations,” the company said in a series of tweets. “We wanted to be open about this action given the broad interest in this case.”

 

EU calls for transparent investigation of Babchenko assassination

“The European Union expresses its sincere condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of journalist Arkady Babchenko, who was killed at his home in Kyiv on 29 May”- the External Action Service reacted in a statement of a spokesperson.

“Mr Babchenko was a respected war correspondent, who left his native Russia in 2017 following threats to his life in relation to his journalistic work there. Each time that a voice of freedom is violently silenced, it risks weakening our societies and undermining our democracies. The best way to honour Mr Babchenko‘s memory and his work, and to firmly counter any attempt to endanger our shared fundamental rights is through a swift and transparent investigation that brings those responsible for this crime to justice.”

“The European Union stands in solidarity with journalists and will continue to work to protect them and their work, which is vital to all democracies, within and beyond our borders.”

The assassination evoked a wave of condamnation from behalf of the leading European international institutions as Council of Europe, Thorbjorn Jagland requested full and rapid investigation, pointing at danger the attack on free speech represents to democracy.

The assassination of a dissident Russian journalist, who lived and worked in Ukraine since 2017, took place next to his apartment, where he was shot three times in his back. There Ukrainian police said the hideous act may have been tied to his reporting.

Babchenko, 41, died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, a government official said.

Russian authorities vehemently reject accusations made ahead of the investigation.

AMENDMENT (!) 30/05/3028 17:45

“The reported killing of Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko on Tuesday in Kiev was actually a ruse played by the Ukrainian law enforcement to prevent a planned hit, the Ukrainian authorities said.

Reporting on the high profile case on Wednesday, the head of the SBU, Ukraine’s national security service, Sergey Gritsak said Babchenko was alive and unhurt”.

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