25 March, 2019 steades

The European Journalists Directive denounces attacks on press freedom in Poland

The steering committee of the European Federation of Journalists visited the “Gazeta Wysorcza”. Second from the left, Luís Menéndez, Spanish representative of FAPE, together with the rest of the European committee and Polish journalists, in Gdansk.

The steering committee of the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) denounced the past few days in Gdansk (northern Poland) the serious situation facing journalists and media in that country, especially since the publication of the Law of the Public Media, in force since 2016. This initiative led to massive dismissals of journalists (450, only on public television), dismissals and resignations of directors, strangulation of public and private media with astronomical fines, and permanent obstacles to critical journalists. This situation also occurs in the judicial field. The panorama is so alarming that the European Union activated for the first time Art.7 of the Treaty of the Union to safeguard the rule of law and opened a file that could lead Poland to lose its voting rights in the EU.

The mission of European journalists was headed by the EFJ president, the Danish Mogens Blicher, and had delegates from seven EU countries, among them the Spaniard Luís Menéndez, international representative of FAPE. The committee visited and contacted the newspaper Gazeta Wysorcza, one of the most persecuted, along with Polytika or Newsweek Polska, by the government of PiS (Law and Justice) chaired by Mateusz Morawiecki, with closures and systematic threats. The Warsaw Government alleges, basically, that the criticism in the media is “unpatriotic” and urges the “repolonization” of the country’s values. La Gazeta Wysorcza is one of the historical media with great diffusion and professional credibility. Well-known Polish journalists like Adam Michnik and Ryszard Kapuscinski worked in Gazeta. The members of the EFJ also had contacts with the representatives of the three Polish professional associations, the SDP, the SDPR, and the TS, with whom the situation was analyzed in detail and the divergences between the journalists themselves were made clear.

The EFJ committee finally published a statment (official statement) addressed to the Polish government as well as to European public opinion calling for the “cessation of the current situation of repression against Polish journalists and media, and the opening of new avenues of communication for the democratic normalization, under the European standards and principles, so that the situation can be reversed as soon as possible “.

Finally, the European delegates attended the international conference “Free European Media” organized by the EU and various professional bodies – including the EFJ – which highlighted the delicate Polish situation for the press and justice. Thus, this concern was also transferred to one of the most awaited guests, the Nobel Peace Prize and leader of the Solidarity movement, Lech Walesa.

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