Home Politics Polish government and opposition pledge media freedom ahead of elections – EURACTIV.com

Polish government and opposition pledge media freedom ahead of elections – EURACTIV.com

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A politician from the Law and Justice (PiS) party has pledged to advocate within his party for the decriminalization of defamation, while a former opposition ombudsman has promised to fight for a in-depth reform of public media in response to a call. by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

On the eve of the legislative elections on October 15, RSF published 15 recommendations on press freedom, developed in cooperation with Polish experts and media. They highlighted the public media’s promotion of the ruling camp in their programs and the failure of the National Audiovisual Council (KRRiT) to fulfill its duty to protect the independence and pluralism of the media.

“The current government is perpetuating a vicious cycle of polarization. After taking total control of public media, it stigmatizes private media whose resistance then serves as a pretext for new political pressures on the entire media landscape,” said Pavol Szalai, head of RSF’s EU-Balkans desk, in a press release. release.

Replacing the right to information with propaganda compromises the fairness of Polish elections and the country’s international reputation. By improving press freedom in line with our recommendations, Poland can regain the place its people deserve: the democratic core of Europe, he added.

Another problem in the Polish media landscape highlighted by RSF is that of “systematic attacks on the independence” of private media and legal proceedings against the media, paralyzing citizens’ right to information.

During his mission to Warsaw from October 2 to 5, Szalai discussed the recommendations with the media and political parties. In response to RSF’s call, PiS MP Joanna Lichocka, member of the National Media Council, pledged to act in favor of media freedom.

Excessive prosecutions constitute an existing problem for press freedom in Poland, she acknowledged, pledging to oppose prison sentences imposed on journalists for defamation and advocating within PiS for a legislation decriminalizing defamation.

Polish public media and control institutions need systemic reform to guarantee their independence from the government,” said former Polish ombudsman, now Civic Coalition politician Adam Bodnar, quoted by RSF.

He added that he believes that political influence in the selection of public media leaders “should be reduced in favor of the participation of civil society and experts.”

Furthermore, the leaders of the two other opposition camps, the centrist Third Way coalition and the Left party, have shown themselves willing to carry out reforms on press freedom if they enter the government, according to RSF .

RSF’s recommendations aim for “a reform of public media, fair conditions of competition on the market and in access to information for private and public media, measures against abusive prosecutions, as well as guarantees for security and the rights of journalists. »

The issue of media freedom is barely present in the election campaign in Poland, giving way to topics such as immigration, privatization of state assets and the retirement age, on which the people Polish people will be questioned during the referendum which will take place at the same time as the elections.

Poland is ranked 57th out of 180 countries in the World Press Freedom Index established by RSF, the fifth worst place in the EU.

(Alexandra Krzysztoszek | Euractiv.pl)

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