The EU faces challenges to its press freedom record from member states that have repressive laws and regulations, and by its failure to act swiftly when countries renege on their commitments.

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."

Reports   |   Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, UK

Balancing Act

Press freedom at risk as EU struggles to match action with values

The European Union strives to be a global leader in press freedom but faces challenges from member states that have criminal defamation and blasphemy laws, and have introduced counterterrorism measures, including mass surveillance. The EU has made press freedom imperative in negotiating with candidate countries, but has been accused of failing to take strong action when member states renege on their press freedom commitments. Journalists working in the region are also affected by EU laws and policies, such as the trade secrets directive and access to information regulations. A special report by the Committee to Protect Journalists

September 29, 2015 4:00 AM ET

Reports   |   Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, UK

Balancing Act


The European Union describes itself as a model for press freedom and an exemplary global power. Although many of its 28 member states feature at the top of international press freedom rankings, there are significant challenges that undermine press freedom and new threats are emerging.

Alerts   |   Hungary

In Hungary, police beat journalists covering refugee crisis at border

New York, September 17, 2015--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the actions of Hungarian police who, according to reports, attacked journalists covering the arrival of refugees at the Serbian-Hungarian border. At least seven international journalists were beaten by riot police yesterday, and a video journalist from The Associated Press was ordered to delete footage on Saturday, according to reports.

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.

Attacks on the Press   |   China, Cuba, Eritrea, Hungary, Iran, Poland, South Africa, Sudan, Syria, Vietnam

Journalists overcome obstacles through crowdfunding and determination

The rubble of a school bombed by the Sudanese government in 2012. To set up a news agency to cover the conflict, humanitarian worker Ryan Boyette used crowdfunding. (AP/Ryan Boyette)

During South Africa's Boer War, at the turn of the 20th century, a determined news organization relocated reporters, copy editors, and printing presses to the front line to ensure accurate reporting. In the Warsaw Ghetto, during World War II, a literal underground press, established to counter Nazi propaganda, required the nightly movement of cumbersome printing equipment to evade capture.

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.

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