On the eve of the annual meeting of the European Federation of Journalists, which will be held this Friday and Saturday at the Press House in Zagreb, we publish short interviews with the EFJ leadership about the current situation in journalism and everything that will be discussed in Zagreb for two days.
The third interview from the series that we are publishing is the one with the General Secretary of European Federation of Journalists Ricardo Gutiérrez.
EFJ has an overview of all the problems and troubles journalists are facing today. Could you single out some of the biggest?
Europe has become a dangerous region for journalists. In the last 6 years, 33 journalists have been killed in Europe, just for doing their job. We reported over 1,000 violations of media freedom on the Council of Europe Platform for the protection of journalism and the safety of journalists.
All over Europe, thousands of journalists are threatened, beaten, intimidated or prosecuted. Journalists face a very hostile clilate fueled by the rhetoric of populistic politicians. We never faced before such a massive attack against the citizen’s right to access news!
The other major threat is the more and more precarious working conditions, especificaly for freelance journalists. The growing power of online platforms and big techs destroyed the funding model of many media outlets. It is high time to take action!
EFJ, among other activities, was greatly involved in rescuing our colleagues from Afghanistan. What was done and what needs to be done in the future? What was the most emotional situation for you?
Our colleagues from IFJ centralised the requests for evacuation. The EFJ supported the evacuations by mobilising its European members, asking them to convince their governments to include Afghan journalists in the national evacuation plans. We need now to support the diplomatic efforts in order to allow a new wave of evacuations. The most emotional situation I face on a daily base is receiving Whatsapp messages from journalists who are still hidden in Kabul. We cannot abandon them!
What are your expectations from European Federation of Journalists Annual Meeting 2021. that is going to be held in Zagreb in a few days?
Considering the very harsh situation in Croatia, with so many journalists prosecuted in order to silence them, we really need a strong mobilisation against SLAPPs. Our message to the European Commission should be clear: we need an EU directive to prosecute those in power abusing the law to silence journalists.
This is a major threat on the people’s right to know! I also expect gestures of solidarity with journalists in Belarus. The illegitimate president Lukashenko is simply destroying democracy and civil society. We need a stronger mobilisation from the international community against those in power in Belarus.