STRASBOURG, France: The Council of Europe on Tuesday voiced concern at the rising levels of violence against journalists throughout the continent, notably in Turkey and Russia.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted a resolution decrying “the many cases of serious threats to media freedom in Europe,” highlighting the deaths of 16 journalists since January 2015 in member states.
The body, which met in Strasbourg, found the situation particularly worrying in Turkey and the Russian-controlled Crimean peninsula.
PACE called on Turkish authorities to “release from detention all journalists who have not been indicted for actively participating in terrorist acts” and “review emergency decrees” which ordered the seizure of media companies and allowed the arrest of staff.
The parliamentarians also highlighted “the worrying situation in the Russian Federation, the Crimean Peninsula occupied by Russia, and in the eastern parts of Ukraine.”
PACE called on the Russian authorities to allow Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov to return home.
Sentsov was convicted of terrorism in 2015 for arson attacks on pro-Kremlin party offices in Russian-annexed Crimea.
The independence of public broadcasters from governments must be guaranteed, the Council of Europe parliamentarians agreed.
The Council of Europe’s “platform to promote the protection of journalism and safety of journalists” has recorded more than 230 attacks on media staff since it was set up in 2015.
The Council of Europe is a pan-European body made up of 47 countries, including Turkey and 28 EU member states.
It describes itself as Europe’s leading human rights organisation and all its members have signed the European Convention on Human Rights.