March 1st marks a new chapter in the support for journalists under threat – it is the start of the Europe-wide rapid response mechanism (RRM) for violations of press and media freedom. The RRM is conducted by a consortium led by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom in Leipzig (ECPMF). The Mechanism is designed to mitigate the consequences of the recently observed deterioration of press and media freedom in certain EU Member States and Candidate Countries.
The consortium consists of the ECPMF, ARTICLE 19, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), Free Press Unlimited (FPU), the Institute for Applied Informatics at the University of Leipzig(InfAI), International Press Institute (IPI) and CCI/Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT).
Rapid responses to violations of press freedom
The work programme of the consortium comprises the development of coordinated rapid responses to violations of press and media freedom. Thematic focal points are online harassment, especially against female journalists, legal threats like SLAPP (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation) lawsuits, the fight against impunity and the situation of media freedom in specific countries.
In response to violations of media freedom the partners will implement a broad set of instruments, from advocacy to campaigning, legal aid to practical support, training to consultation. The monitoring of press freedom violations will mainly be done by IPI and EFJ. Both organisations have large membership and contact networks throughout Europe, which will be a key resource for the monitoring work. The common platform to submit alerts is mappingmediafreedom.org; selected cases will also be submitted to the Council of Europe’s Platform for the protection of journalism and safety of journalists. During the project period the Institute for Applied Informatics at the University of Leipzig will develop a new methodology for mappingmediafreedom.org based on artificial intelligence and text recognition. All activities focus on EU Member States and Candidate Countries.
The RRM is supported with 1.4 Million Euro co-funding from the European Commission following the intention of the European Parliament to provide increased support to the defence of press and media freedom in the European Union.
Protecting journalists in Europe
“Without journalists uncovering the truth and holding powers to account, Europe’s democratic values are under threat. We believe the Europe-wide Rapid Response Mechanism will play a crucial role in protecting the safety of journalists in Europe. We welcome the Commission’s support, which comes at a crucial moment to turn the tide and make Europe a safe place for journalists once again” says Leon Willems, director of Free Press Unlimited.
“The murders of Daphne Caruana Galizia and Jan Kuciak dramatically proved the need for an instrument like the Rapid Response Mechanism. It is high time to strengthen protection and prevention on a European level”, says Lutz Kinkel, ECPMF’s Managing Director. “The consortium that runs the project has excellent abilities with regard to practical support and communication. It will make a difference.”