Politics 19:31 03/04/2020 World

CoE Commissioner warns against undermining media during pandemic

Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Dunja Mijatovic warned on Friday that the measures imposed in a number of countries during the coronavirus pandemic are limiting media freedom and obstructing journalists.

“The global health problems caused by COVID-19 require effective measures to protect people’s health and lives. This includes combating disinformation that may cause panic and social unrest. Regrettably some governments are using this imperative as a pretext to intro-duce disproportionate restrictions to press freedom; this is a counterproductive approach that must stop. Particularly in times of crisis, we need to protect our precious liberties and rights,” Mijatovic is quoted as saying in a press release.

She warned that the authorities in some CoE member states have introduced regulations hampering journalists and restricting the public’s right to receive information.

“Journalists covering the pandemic in Hungary and the Russian Federation are facing a variety of sanctions, including the risk, under new laws, of prison terms of up to five years for spreading “false information”, while in Azerbaijan, recent amendments impose an obligation on owners of internet news outlets to prevent the dissemination of “harmful information” online,” read the statement.

In reference to Armenia the Commissioner notes that number of newspapers and websites had to delete some information, following the adoption of strict rules prohibiting the publication of information of a medical and epidemiological nature about the virus outbreak describing not fully consistent with official sources.

“I therefore urge all Council of Europe member states to preserve press and media freedom and ensure that measures to combat disinformation are necessary, proportionate and subject to regular oversight, including by Parliament and national human rights institutions. Measures to combat disinformation must never prevent journalists and media actors from carrying out their work or lead to content being unduly blocked on the Internet,” the statement concluded.



Source Panorama.am
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