Geneva – On World Press Freedom Day, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor issued a report that calls for undertaking serious measures to protect journalism and prevent any violations that affect the exercise of this right, whether in the field or in the cyberspace.
The report highlights the violations that journalists have been exposed to and the measures that hinder their work, in addition to a review of some Arab and European countries that have taken restrictive measures to freedom of the press in light of the Coronavirus crisis, as well as the legal position towards these types of violations.
The report included a statistical overview of violations of freedom of the press during the Coronavirus pandemic, and prominent examples of countries that violated the rights of journalists’ to exercise their work freely during the pandemic.
According to the report, the number of violations committed in the reviewed areas against journalists and the press since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic to date has reached 162 violations, including arrests, restrictions on access to information, censorship, and accusations of fabricating and publishing false news through social media and other media outlets, as well as verbal and physical attacks.
The report pointed out that the escalating violations exacerbated the risks faced by journalists during the crisis. The Press Emblem Campaign documented the death of 55 journalists in 23 countries due to COVID-19 infections as they have to enter infected areas, such as hospitals or quarantine centers, to obtain information, risking their lives to convey the truth.
The report documented a group of violations committed by many countries, including Arab and African countries, against the freedom of journalism and publishing information during the pandemic, which included arresting journalists, imposing restrictions on their work, and adopting legal amendments limiting public freedoms.
It is the responsibility of governments to protect the right to freedom of expression and access to information, in accordance with the provisions of international human rights law, as a set of articles contained in many international charters and agreements guarantee this right even in times of emergency and crisis.
The right to freedom of expression and access to information must be respected, in accordance with the provisions of international human rights law, and governments should work to provide accurate information regarding the nature of the Coronavirus.
It is necessary to realize that intentionally hiding information about the pandemic or publishing misleading data would create fear, health concerns, and chaos among the population, and reflect negatively on the health of society.
Individuals must be granted reliable and unrestricted access to the Internet and information, especially in times of emergency. Governments should refrain from imposing restrictions on access to the Internet under the pretext of maintaining order and public morals.
Measures that violate freedom of the press must be prevented, such as removing content or criminalizing publishing information related to the pandemic, as this may be a reason for withholding important information that may contribute to saving lives and protecting society.
Report in Arabic, Here
Report in English, Here