Wednesday 22 October 2014

Currently browsing 'Media Freedom'

Freedom of the press is the freedom of communication and expression through vehicles including various electronic media and published materials. While such freedom mostly implies the absence of interference from an overreaching state, its preservation may be sought through constitutional or other legal protections.

 

Venture-backed US media: over-funded & over here?

Posted by on 05/10/14
If you care about EU democracy you need to care about European media, particularly as the upcoming US media invasion gets underway. They’ll be pushing on an open door when they get to Brussels. Anyone interested in the Internet and/or media and/or democracy should have followed the development of media business models since at least [...]

Premio Sakharov 2014. Chi sarà il campione dei diritti umani del 2014?

Posted by on 25/09/14

Anche quest’anno, come negli ultimi ventisei anni, il Parlamento Europeo consegnerà il Premio Sakharov per la libertà di pensiero. Questo martedì, 23 settembre 2014, sono stati presentati i candidati in un meeting congiunto delle commissioni per gli Affari esteri, lo sviluppo e i diritti umani.

Andreï Dmitrievitch Sakharov (1921-1989), fisico russo inventore della bomba a idrogeno, creò negli anni ’70 un comitato per la difesa dei diritti dell’uomo e delle vittime delle persecuzioni politiche, cosa che gli fece assegnare il Premio Nobel per la pace nel 1975.

Il Premio Sakharov fu creato dal Parlamento europeo nel 1988 e i primi a riceverlo furono Nelson Mandela e Anatoli Marchenko.

Quest’anno ci sono sette candidature e, in ordine alfabetico, sono le seguenti:

1. Il professore di giurisprudenza dell’Università di Mosul Mahmoud Al ‘Asali, che si è battuto per i diritti dei Cristiani in Iraq ed è stato ucciso lo scorso luglio, e il patriarca iracheno della Chiesa cattolica caldea Louis Raphael Sako, candidati per la loro difesa delle libertà religiose.

2. I rapper Mouad Belghouate (anche conosciuto come El Haqed) del Marocco, Ala Yaacoubi (anche conosciuto come Weld El) della Tunisia e il blogger e attivista politico egiziano Alaa Abdel Fattah.

3. Le associazioni per la protezione delle minoranze cristiane CHREDO, Open Doors, Oeuvre d’Orient e Aid to the Church in Need.

4. Il movimento ucraino pro-europeo EuroMaidan, rappresentato dal giornalista Mustafa Nayem, la cantante e vincitrice di Eurovision Ruslana Lyzhychko, l’attivista Yelyzaveta Schepetylnykova e la giornalista Tetiana Chornovol.

5. L’attivista americana di origini somale Ayaan Hirsi Ali, che si è adoperata per la difesa dei diritti delle donne nelle società islamiche ed è conosciuta per la sua opposizione alla mutilazione genitale femminile.

6. Il ginecologo congolese Denis Mukwege, specializzato in trattamenti per le vittime di stupri e fondatore dell’ospedale Panzi in Bukavu, nella Repubblica Democratica del Congo;

7. L’attivista azera per i diritti umani e direttrice dell’Istituto della Pace e Democrazia Leyla Yunus, attualmente incarcerata in Azerbaigian.

Il premio sarà conferito a ottobre, tuttavia tutti i candidati meriterebbero il premio. Sarebbe quindi importante che le loro storie ricevessero la maggiore notorietà possibile a prescindere da chi sarà il vincitore.

 

Per chi fosse interessato, la pagina del Premio Sakharov è la seguente: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/aboutparli…

Could Springer/Politico succeed where most ‘European media’ failed?

Posted by on 15/09/14
By Christophe Leclercq Axel Springer (‘Bild’ and others, beyond Germany) and Politico (chiefly Washington, also NY) will jointly launch a media, covering Europe, probably branching out of Brussels. This new attempt is by two large companies with a lot of money and with professional teams. A difference with some, but not all, previous attempts. And an asset but potentially also a curse, depending on answering 10 key questions.

#B2B4ME: Back to Blogging

Posted by on 15/09/14
B2B once meant ‘Business to Business’. After the first online bubble popped, it became ‘Back to Banking’ (alongside its close cousin ‘Back to Consulting’), as legions beat a retreat to the safety of corporate life. And now, perhaps, it means Back to Blogging, and apparently not just for me. After experimenting blogging on Google+ and/or [...]

The European Ombudsman needs to protect whistleblowers in EU

Posted by on 04/08/14

Last week the European Ombudsman announced that it had launched an inquiry into the internal rules for whistleblowing which the EU institutions are required to adopt as of 1 January 2014. While this might be seen as good example of the Ombudsman’s own-initiative investigations, the inquiry is limited in scope and misses the Ombudsman’s own role in whistleblowing protection.

Whistleblowing is usually defined as unauthorised disclosure or reporting of corporate information to people and media outside the organisation (external disclosure). Whistleblowing, however, can also take place inside the organisation when for example an employee reports to his manager that wrong-doing or malpractice has occurred (internal disclosure).

It has been a hot topic in the European Commission since 1999 when 20 commissioners were forced to resign following the disclosure of irregularities. A single person, Paul van Buitenen, “blowed the whistle” and alarmed the European Parliament, which in its turn expressed its non-confidence in the entire College of Commissioners.

Buitenen was later elected to the European Parliament. He has described and justified his whistleblowing in a book: “Blowing the whistle – one man’s fight against fraud in the European Commission”. His whistleblowing was effective but he and his family paid a price in terms of personal suffering and economic uncertainty.

Following this incident, the Commission adopted new rules in the internal staff regulations. An official shall not suffer any “prejudicial effects” on the part of the institution as a result of having communicated information concerning “possible illegal activity, incl. fraud or corruption”, provided that he acted “reasonably and honestly”.

However, this doesn’t apply to information disclosed to the official in the course of proceedings in legal cases, whether pending or closed. It’s also obvious from the rules that the Commission prefers internal disclosure.

Protection isn’t guaranteed if an official discloses information even to the European Parliament or the European Court of Auditors without previously having disclosed it to OLAF or to his own institution. That said, the situation is surely better than it used to be when there was no protection whatsoever.

To assess the effectiveness of whistleblowing regulation in the EU one would need to ask some questions. How often does whistleblowing achieve its declared objective of putting an end to wrong-doing? How often does the whistle-blower remain unharmed and protected against replacement, dismissal, or other forms of retaliation by the employer?

When an employee blows the whistle the attention will be drawn to him/herself rather than to the issue that needs to be corrected. A double burden of proof will most often be laid on the whistle-blower – to prove that the allegations are true and that his/she has acted in good faith.

Therefore the odds are heavily against the whistle-blower as the following quotation shows (Glazer, “Whistleblowing”, in Psychology Today, Aug 1986):

“If you have God, the law, the press and the facts on your side, you have a 50 – 50 chance of winning.”
The inquiry by the European Ombudsman will obviously not deal with these questions which are more appropriate for an external audit. The inquiry is limited to the implementation of a new paragraph (22 c) in the staff regulations.

It requires the EU institutions to put in place a procedure for the handling of complaints made by officials concerning the way in which they were treated after or in consequence of whistleblowing. The procedure shall include rules for the “protection of the legitimate interests” of the officials concerned and of their privacy.

Is this enough? The European Ombudsman draws the attention to its own draft decision on internal rules concerning whistleblowing. In this decision the Ombudsperson herself shall protect a whistleblower against any acts of retaliation or reprisal. However, this applies only for the employees in the European Ombudsman institution.

There is a growing awareness that employees, both in the public and private sector, need an external supervisory body to protect them against negative consequences if they have acted in good faith and used accepted and authorised channels for reporting on wrong-doing and irregularities.

Employees should try to avoid whistleblowing for the simple reason that it’s never in their best interest to get entangled in whistleblowing. Nor is it in the interest of employers to receive negative publicity on not having prevented an irregularity. But it would be wishful thinking to think that we live in the best of worlds where no whistleblowing will ever have to happen.

There is definitely a public interest in the protection of employees disclosing criminal offences committed by companies or public bodies, in particular when public funds are involved or when there is a clear danger to health, safety and environment. Such protection can be given by Ombudsman institutions, e.g. by rulings against adverse measures against the whistle-blower.

Whistleblowing protection isn’t only an issue in the EU institutions but even more so in the member states where most corruption occurs. A study in 2012 by Transparency International (“Money, politics, power – corruption risks in Europe”) showed that the vast majority of EU member states haven’t introduced whistle-blower protection legislation.

Legislation, where is exists, reflects a piecemeal approach and is often inadequate. An EU directive on whistleblowing protection legislation might be required.

The best known example of legislation is the Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA) in United Kingdom. The act entered into force in 1999 and has been described as one of the world’s broadest whistleblowing laws. On the positive side is also the current discussion in the new network of Ombudsman institutions in the candidate countries to include whistleblowing protection among their tasks.

Kosovo et Union Européenne : des progrès, mais tout n’est pas réglé

Posted by on 29/07/14

La Commission européenne a salué le 24 juillet dernier les progrès du Kosovo dans la mise en œuvre des exigences de la feuille de route sur la libéralisation des visas. Pour elle le Kossovo a bien progressé, même si de nouveaux efforts s’imposent pour permettre aux ressortissants de ce pays de se déplacer sans visa.

Dans son second rapport, la Commission relève que le Kosovo a pris des mesures importantes pour mettre en œuvre sa législation dans tous les domaines couverts par la feuille de route pour la libéralisation du régime des visas : « la réadmission semble à présent fonctionnelle ; le système de réintégration est opérationnel ; la gestion des frontières, les migrations, l’asile et le système de justice pénale kosovar ont bénéficié de réformes importants » constate la Commission. Toutefois de nouvelles mesures restent nécessaires pour satisfaire pleinement aux exigences de la feuille de route sur les visas. Le rapport invite le Kosovo à favoriser la réintégration durable des personnes rapatriées, à améliorer la précision de son état civil, à déployer son système d’information sur les visas ; à renforcer l’indépendance du pouvoir judiciaire et à obtenir des résultats crédibles en matière de décisions de justice dans les affaires de criminalité organisée et de corruption.

Un tel programme n’est pas une mince affaire.

La Commission a également évalué les effets potentiels de la libéralisation du régime des visas sur la sécurité et les flux migratoires et a conclu que la suppression des visas obligatoires pour les citoyens du Kosovo comportait certains risques pour l’UE en matière de sécurité et de migration. La Commission constate en effet depuis 2012 une augmentation sensible de la traite des êtres humains en provenance du Kosovo et le rapport annuel de l’EASO pour 2014 indique également une augmentation considérable du nombre du nombre de demandes d’asiles déposées dans les Etats membres de l’UE par des citoyens Kosovars. La Commission recommande au Kosovo de prendre des mesures supplémentaires afin d’atténuer les risques de la libéralisation du régime des visas en matière de sécurité et de migration. La Commission se veut optimiste et ne veut décourager personne, mais constatons qu’il y a encore beaucoup de pain sur la planche ! Remarquons cependant que cela ne fait que seulement deux ans que les uns et les autres se sont engagés dans ces travaux dignes des travaux de Hercule : nettoyer les écuries d’Augias.

Pour en savoir plus

     – . Deuxième rapport de la Commission européenne (EN) http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/what-is-new/news/news/docs/second_commission_assessment_en.pdf (FR) http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/what-is- new/news/news/docs/second_commission_assessment_fr.pdf

     -. Document de travail des services de la Commission accompagnant le rapport (EN) http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/what-is-new/news/news/docs/accompanying_staff_working_document_en.pdf

 


Classé dans:Actualités, BREVES

Getting rid of ECHR: Good for Cameron, bad for the rest of Europe

Posted by on 20/07/14

Notoriously, David Cameron is ready to do everything in order to stay in Downing Street after next year’s general election. With his latest proposition, however, he sets new standards in terms of unreason and is directly threating Europe as value-based community at its very core.

Mr Cameron and his party intend to sideline the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) by enabling the House of Commons to veto its verdicts. In this way the United Kingdom is de facto riding itself from the judical surpremacy of the Strasbourg court, since such a mechanism is barely compatible with the European Convention of Human Rights.

Generally speaking, it’s backlash of the court’s verdict onto British legislation that inducing the Tories to such an unprecented move. More immediately, however, the British government seeks to be able to expel convicted foreigners from its country.

Mr Cameron’s plan is widely criticised – even within his own party. Last week, two major opponents in his ranks, the liberal-minded Attorney General Dominic Grieve and fromer Justice Secretary Ken Clarke, lost their jobs in the Cabinet due to a comprehensive reshuffle by the Prime Minister. Although Downing Street is neglecting any link between their replacements and its ECHR plans, it can hardly be sold as an unhappy coincidence that his strongest and most vocal opponents, of all people, suddenly find themselves out of their jobs. According to reports, the party’s convention in October should clear the tracks for the endeavor.

It is the latest display of unreason that Mr Cameron hopes would help secure his re-election. And it, again, comes at a very high price.

The European Court of Human Rights has been established in the early 1950s as a supranational court, that monitors the compliance of the European Convention of Human Rights and imposes sanctions in case of violations. It was founded on the idea that the reading of human rights should not be subjected to the political arbitrariness in each European country, but should follow common standards and be subjected to the jurisdiction of an independent supranational body.

And that is exactly what the court has done ever since. In this month, the ECHR has passed its judgement on the controversial imprisonment of reporters in Turkey, on keeping defendants in cages during court proceedings in Russia and on the marriage ban for transsexuals in Finland.

47 European states have ratified the respective convention and thus subjected themselves to the jurisdiction of the ECHR. If the United Kingdom were to leave, as the Prime Minister obviously intends, it would join an exquisit club with Belarus, Europe’s last dictatorship. Furthermore, observers on both sides of the Channel consider the recognition of the ECHR a requirement for EU membership. Therefore, Britain’s sidelining could lead to its exit from the European Union which notoriously is not a frightening scenario among the Conservatives.

If Europe today is legitimatised to present itself as a champion of human rights, it is solely due to the European Convention of Human Rights and the Strasbourg court that guarantees for its compliance.

The European Union, on the other hand, is almost powerless with regard to the adherence of human rights. Yes, there is the Charter for Fundamental Rights that proclaims the values and freedoms of the Union and its citizens. But neither is the Charter legally binding for national legislation nor has each member state sign up to it. Poland and the UK have opted out and for countries like Hungary or Romania, it does not make for a proper instrument to curb undemocratic developments.

For years, European politicians and jurists have discussed legislation to make the Charter a legally binding instrument. Until now, they have not been able to come up with a tangible and feasible way to do so. Jean-Claude Juncker, President-elect of the European Commission, announced in his speech before the European Parliament that he intends to appoint a Commissioner of Fundamental Rights in his Commission. How such a Commissioner could do anything to improve the situation, has yet to be seen.

Today, the ECHR remains the sole guarantor for human rights in Europe. If the European Union by itself is not able to contribute to that task, it should at least support the ECHR at the very utmost. Consequently, there must be an unambiguous response to David Cameron’s intentions – if not for the sake of Britian’s future in Europe, then at least in order to avoid such intentions from catching on in other member states. Otherwise, there would be serious reason for concern for human rights in Europe to get subjected to political arbitrariness of single countries and for the idea of Europe to be a community based on humanitarian values to remain nothing but a rhetoricial figure.

This peace first appeared on TheEuropean.de on July 19th (in German). Follow me on Twitter @brnshnwd

BBC is worth saving

Posted by on 17/07/14

Despite its failings, the UK state broadcaster, the British Broadcasting Corporation, is worth saving, argues Whitehouse Consultancy Chairman, Chris Whitehouse, as he warns that the future of its funding arrangements are in jeopardy.

Read Chris’s full article here.

The Whitehouse Consultancy is one of Europe’s leading public affairs and communications agencies.

Free press is essential to democracy

Posted by on 10/07/14

Whitehouse Consultancy Chairman, Chris Whitehouse, discusses the the implications for the United Kingdom’s media industry of the conviction for phone hacking of Andy Coulson, former media advisor to British Prime Minister, David Cameron, in his latest article for The Universe magazine. He argues strongly in defence of a free press, but criticises state broadcaster the BBC for bias,

To read Chris’s article, please click here.

The Whitehouse Consultancy is one of Europe’s leading public affairs and communications agencies.

UK state broadcaster, BBC, under threat

Posted by on 07/07/14

Support for public funding of the UK’s state broadcaster, the BBC, is under threat, according to the results of an opinion poll commissioned and published by The Whitehouse Consultancy.

Read the results and analysis here.

The Whitehouse Consultancy is one of Europe’s leading public affairs and communications agencies.

 

The new constitution and fragile constitutional process in Turkey

Posted by on 19/06/14
By Gülistan Gürbey There is a broad consensus in Turkish society and politics for a new constitution but this work is de facto ended because of differences between the parties regarding main issues such traditionally ideological basics of state, type of government, minority rights or the independence of the judiciary. Without a new and civil constitution, Turkey will remain as a blocked democracy.

VoxEurop

Posted by on 09/06/14

In europe@s, we gave in his day the welcome to Presseurop (2009) and were sorry about his closing (2013). Nevertheless, last May 20 we were receiving an encouraging news: the putting in VoxEurop’s march, a project that tries to give continuity and, at the same time, to innovate on the need of an European way of information. For all this, we speak today with Sergio Cebrián, Publisher in Spanish and the publishing director of VoxEurop. He asks. Can you speak to us about the similarities and differences between these two projects?

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Using gmail is like using asbestos: cheap, convenient but with very high risks

Posted by on 20/05/14
This was just one of many tweets recorded during the 4th Data Harvest+ festival last weekend. Almost 200 journalists and developers/coders gather from 27 countries to exchange best practices and experiences over 2.5 days. It was inspiring to have over 70 workshops to choose from and consequently impossible to cover everything but the organisers, journalismfund.eu, [...]

‘EU culture eats strategy for breakfast’

Posted by on 15/05/14
By Julian Oliver In a keynote speech given to the fourth Data Harvest conference organised by Journalismfund.eu, Emily O’Reilly, the recently installed EU Ombudsman, explained how the main EU institutions have been obliged to adopt Open Access practices in order to bring citizens inside the governance tent. But changing their strategy on the issue is a long-term project, she said: “EU culture eats strategy for breakfast”.

Europe 3.0

Posted by on 12/05/14

It has just published ” Europe 3.0. 90 looks from Spain to the European Union ” and we want to speak today with Michael Ángel Benedicto, coordinator of this work together with Eugenio Hernández.

He asks. Speak to us on the origin and the preparations of this publication

Response. Eugenio Hernández and I started a few months ago with the Association Ideas and the project Debates Europa’s Coffee, a series of seminars and debates in order to bring Europe over to the citizens accompanied of a website and a strong presence in the social networks and in the mass media. For it we possess the help of the European Commission and of the Federal Advice of the European Movement in Spain. The idea was a book did with the presentations of this debate but we bet for a project more ambitious that we have culminated…

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