(Index) – Pressure on Europe’s journalists as they do their jobs saw no let up during the fourth quarter of 2015, according to a survey of verified incidents of violations reported to Index on Censorship’s project Mapping Media Freedom.
Between October 1 and December 31, 2015, Mapping Media Freedom‘s network of 19 correspondents verified 232 reports that were submitted to the database. Each report is reviewed for factual accuracy and confirmed with local sources before an incident is publicly available on the map. The platform – a joint undertaking with the European Federation of Journalists and Reporters Without Borders and partially funded by the European Commission – covers 40 countries, including all EU member states, Albania, Belarus, Bosnia, Iceland, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Norway, Russia, Serbia, Turkey, and Ukraine. Since it was launched in May 2014, the map has recorded over 1,300 violations of media freedom.
During the fourth quarter of 2015: 518 media jobs were lost; two media workers reporting on the Syrian conflict were killed in Turkey; 40 reports of physical assaults on media professionals were confirmed; media workers were detained in 26 cases with criminal charges filed in 11 cases; media professionals were blocked from covering a story in 55 verified incidents; and journalists were subject to public denigration in 22 of the verified reports.
Case Study: Turkey
British journalists Philip Pendlebury and Jake Hanrahan along with their Iraqi translator Mohammed Ismael Rasool and driver were arrested on August 27, 2015 while reporting for Vice News in Diyarbakir in southeastern Turkey. Seven days later the two British journalists were released, but colleague Rasool remained in detention. Working in conjunction with partners and the Council of Europe, Index on Censorship condemned the detentions and wrote a special report on the incident, published a statement and participated in a joint international press freedom mission to Turkey to raise awareness of Rasool’s case. On January 5, 2016, after 131 days in detention, Rasool was released from prison.