The Press Emblem Campaign (PEC), an international independent non-profit and non-governmental organization based in Geneva, Switzerland, has expressed concern over the sharp deterioration of press freedom, which it says has been caused by the Russian war in Ukraine.
PEC records show that 52 media workers have paid with their lives for doing their job since the beginning of the year. It noted that in Russia, the Kremlin’s controls have created a regression in media space unprecedented since the communist era.
PEC therefore made an urgent appeal for a halt to hostilities in Ukraine and for the independence of the media in Russia to be respected.
PEC President, Blaise Lempenn, said: “The year-on-year increase in the number of journalists affected by violence is 116%, a very worrying development.” He disclosed that at least 21 media workers have been killed in the fighting in just over two months of war in Ukraine, and many others were wounded, kidnapped, are missing, were threatened, hacked, or forced to cease their work.
The group noted that access to the war zones in Ukraine is increasingly complex and dangerous due to the volatile nature of the fighting. Some military units do not distinguish between civilians and combatants. PEC strongly condemned indiscriminate attacks targeting civilians.
Blaise lamented that “The war in Ukraine, as it was the case in Syria from 2011 to 2019, shows the difficulties of testifying for media representatives, in the absence of respect for humanitarian law.” PEC hopes that the investigations carried out by several bodies will shed light on these crimes and that the justice system will be able to do its work impartially.
It noted that Russian journalists have also been injured in the fighting, but they have no freedom to report on the situation in the Russian-controlled territories, adding that the measures taken by the authorities in Moscow against independent reporting are a big step backwards.
PEC called on Russian authorities stop persecuting members of the press for allegedly spreading false information on the war in Ukraine, saying it is necessary to help Russian journalists who have been able to redeploy abroad.
Support for local Ukrainian media is essential. Many of them do not have the necessary equipment and financial means to continue working in the war zone. They have lost employees who were recruited by the army or who left their home regions for security reasons.
List and details of victims can be accessed at: www.pressemblem.ch.