In Europe they shoot inconvenient journalists, a further two killed. How should we prevent this

A passage from the speech by Ossigeno per l’Informazione during the presentation of the “Liberal Criticism Foundation Award on Freedom”. The ceremony took place on July 14th  2021 (see here). 

OSSIGENO 21st July 2021 – Prejudices and guilty consciences prevent us from seeing even the things that leap up before our eyes, among other things a drama that repeats itself every day, in our cities, in the most modern and developed West: the drama of censorship imposed with violence and inadmissible abuses of the rule of law. (…)

In Italy and in Europe, institutions and authorities should be doing more to combat violent censorship but they still do not want to surrender to the reality that shows the need to do so. In Italy they do not want to believe the multi-documented diagnosis provided by Ossigeno. They rely on more indulgent observers, on quacks who pretend not to see the spread of the disease and postpone the necessary interventions. Meanwhile, this disease that afflicts the freedom of information continues to spread, becomes gangrenous, claims new victims, even in the heart of Europe, as evidenced by the murder of Giorgos Karaivaz, in Athens on April 9th 2021, and as confirmed by the deadly ambush of the 7th  July 2021 in Amsterdam in which Peter R. Vries was injured and died eight days later.

These very recent and dramatic developments of the phenomenon reminded us of the trauma in 2017, following the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta and the climate made even more dramatic a few months later, in 2018, by the barbaric elimination of Jan Kuciak in Slovakia. . Two murders that could have been avoided. Those murders and that sense of defeat provided a strong shock to the whole of Europe. The European institutions mobilized, made important commitments, launched unprecedented initiatives to prevent the murder of other journalists in the Old Continent.

Almost four years have passed since then. It must be said that that goal still appears far away. Much  data demonstrates that.. And it is worrying to see that the murders of a journalist in Greece and another in the Netherlands do not elicit a reaction comparable to that of the time for the deaths of Daphne Caruana Galizia and Jan Kuciak. These recent murders are not greeted with the same emotional, political and informational mobilization, with the same chorus of indignation.

Once again, there were political and social reactions. But they are subdued compared to those of the time. The effort to provide information on the investigations and background of these attacks was also significantly lower. Yet in the last three years Europe has put in place new observation centres, entrusting them with the task of integrating the activity of the media regarding these events, on the threats and the most serious retaliations against journalists, on the alarms and interventions that can help journalists in danger.

These subdued reactions make a very bad impression. They suggest that in a certain sense we Europeans have begun to resign ourselves, that we are convinced that it is inevitable to suffer these acts of extreme retaliation against journalists and that we must limit ourselves to opposing them with rhetoric.

I hope it’s just an impression, that the reality is different. I hope that subsequent events will undertake to deny categorically he impression that addiction has gained ground. But it is not enough to hope so. We must work to ensure that the facts belie the bad impression. All defenders of freedom and the rule of law must be mobilized. It is necessary to convince all those who accept resignation that this battle can be won by doing in each country what is necessary and possible to do in each country, applying the recommendations of the international institutions which have not been applied until now. It is necessary to help the unbelievers to overcome their (more or less sincere) disbelief for which there is no reason.

Today this disbelief is the barrier that prevents us from facing and solving the problem. It is the barrier to be broken down. (…)

 This is the challenge for those who want to defend freedom of the press and expression from the intimidation that besieges newspapers and journalists. (…)


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