Journalists under threat
An international fact-finding mission led by the Amsterdam-based Free Press Unlimited has concluded that the increased polarisation of Dutch society, and threats from organised crime, pose a considerable risk to the safety of journalists working in the Netherlands.
While overall the Netherlands remains a safe haven of independent media, ranking 6th in Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index, more needs to be done to protect journalists amid increasing threats.
The report, released yesterday, recommends: improving education and understanding of the motives people hold for harassing journalists; understanding the role of journalists during demonstrations better; and protecting journalist better who receive threats from criminals.
The country’s pioneering Pers Veilig mechanism for reporting and prosecuting threats is cited as an example of best practice for improving journalists’ safety. The report states it: “constitutes a laudable example of a constructive cooperation and dialogue between the journalistic community and state authorities”. But improvements could be made, including a consistent implementation of the agreed protocols by the police, such as the recognition of press cards.
There also needs to be a mechanism for gathering data on threats to women journalists who are targeted more frequently in social media.
In 2021, 272 alerts of harassment, intimidation and violence against journalists were recorded by PersVeilig, as opposed to 121 in 2020. Demonstrations are a particularly prominent context in which media freedom violations and attacks on journalists take place.