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Press Freedom News and Views


Blog   |   Hungary

UN review of Hungary shows country 'treats human rights as a public enemy'

Hungary's Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, talks to the press outside the EU leaders' summit in March. The country's poor press freedom record and policies on asylum seekers have been criticized by the U.N. (AFP/John Thys)

On May 9, a stern review of Hungary's conduct in human rights issues and press freedom was released at the United Nations Human Rights Council. The report, drafted by the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, listed concerns from U.N. member states about the controversial policies of Viktor Orbán's government on asylum seekers and hate speech, as well as the poor state of press freedom.

Blog   |   France, Germany, Greece, Hungary

Journalists not welcome: Across Europe, press and migrants increasingly barred

Hungarian police try to stop a young migrant with a baby in September 2015. Journalists covering the refugee story report being harassed, blocked and sometimes attacked. (Reuters/Marko Diurica)

"The press is not allowed in refugee centers." The message from the Greek government could not have been clearer. "No permission will be given to television crews and reporters to enter such premises that hosts refugees," Yannis Mouzalas, the minister in charge of immigration policy, said in a February 29 statement. In protest the Pan-Hellenic Federation of Journalists' Unions, one of Greece's most important media professionals' organizations, responded by underlining that "the need for awareness of society requires showcasing all aspects of the refugee crisis, including the conditions in refugee hosting areas."

Blog   |   Hungary

New hurdles for Hungary's press as Orbán restricts FOI requests

Viktor Orbán at a European Parliament debate about Hungary in May. His government has brought in a law that will make it harder for journalists and others to make Freedom of Information Act requests. (AFP/Frederick Florin)

"This is the best thing that has ever happened in Hungary." Katalin Erdélyi, a freedom of information activist, was referring to a ground-breaking website launched in Hungary in 2012. "I was glad because I realized the potential and how it will help me get all the information I longed for," she told me. The website, KiMitTud (WhoKnowsWhat, in English) is a simple online tool that helps average citizens file information requests to public bodies, and to view and comment on other people's requests. "I alone filed around 500 requests since the launch," Erdélyi said.

Blog   |   Hungary

Orbán walks fine line in Brussels with Hungary's media law

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in Brussels last year. Hungary and its media law have come under scrutiny in the EU. (Reuters/Yves Herman)

"With the Islamic state offensive, the Ebola epidemic and Ukraine, Hungary is not on anyone's mind in Europe," mused one of our interlocutors during the Committee to Protect Journalists' fact-finding mission in Budapest in October. "Viktor Orbán has really nothing to fear from Brussels."

Blog   |   Hungary

In Hungary, an independent website defies censorship and pressure

Tamás Bodoky, editor-in-chief of Atlatszo, which advocates for information access. (AFP/Peter Kohalmi)

A delegation from the Committee to Protect Journalists, led by board member Kati Marton, traveled to Hungary in October on CPJ's first fact-finding and advocacy mission to an EU member state. We went there in response to concerning reports of deteriorating conditions for the press, and met dozens of journalists, media lawyers, managers, rights defenders, and policy analysts. Those we spoke to described an atmosphere of fear and self-censorship, and how critical reporting and alternative views are suppressed through a variety of means, including legal and economic measures that stifle and discourage independent coverage.

But there were signs of hope. Enterprising journalists are defying authorities' attempts to interfere with editorial policies and silence sensitive stories. The editorial team of one such news website, Atlatszo--the name means "transparent"--specializes in investigative journalism and advocating for information access. In Budapest, CPJ visited Atlatszo's offices, housed in an old department store.

Blog   |   Hungary

Mission Journal: Creeping authoritarianism in Hungary

People protesting in Budapest about a new Internet tax on data use hold up their smartphones. (Reuters/Laszlo Balogh)

On the Buda side of the River Danube stands the glass and steel headquarters of the thriving German-owned entertainment channel RTL. On the Pest side of the Hungarian capital, tucked in a corner of a converted department store, lies the cramped office of struggling online news outlet Atlatszo.

Blog   |   Hungary

Amid government crackdown, Hungary's journalists look for new ways to work

"They raided our offices as if we were mobsters. The irony of the situation is that the Hungarian police rarely raid mobsters with such force," said an employee at one of two NGOs whose Budapest offices were stormed by about 20 officers of the Central Investigations Office--Hungary's version of the FBI--on September 8.

Blog   |   Hungary

Hungary's independent media struggle against economic pressure, intimidation

Viktor Orban was re-elected Hungary's prime minister by Parliament in May. (Reuters/Bernadett Szabo)

"This is a new wave of clampdowns by the government--they want to have another four-year term with even less critical media than before," said Szabolcs, a 21-year-old economics student, one of thousands of people who marched in the streets of Budapest in June, chanting "Free Country, Free Press!" The demonstrations were in reaction to several restrictive measures pushed through by Hungary's re-elected government led by the center-right Fidesz party, headed by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

Blog   |   Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugual, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, UK

EU underscores support of free expression, but slights access to information

A new document on freedom of expression and opinion, adopted May 12 by the 28 foreign ministers of the European Union, presses nearly all the right buttons. Drawing its inspiration from international human rights norms as well as from the EU's treaties and its charter of fundamental rights, the document reaffirms the role of freedom of opinion and expression as "an essential foundation for democracy, rule of law, peace, stability, sustainable inclusive development, and participation in public affairs." It also makes a strong case for free and independent journalism. The ministers committed the EU and member states to the defense of journalists' freedom and safety, and endorsed watchdog journalism as a decisive factor in "uncovering abuses of power, shining a light on corruption, and questioning received opinion."

Blog   |   Hungary

Hello, I'm Robert Capa, may I take a picture?

How would Robert Capa and Joe Pulitzer have reacted to the law that came into force on March 15 in their country of birth, Hungary? Let us guess that they would have been stunned. A provision in the new Hungarian civil code forbids taking pictures without the permission of everyone in the photograph.

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