How Safe Is the EU for Journalists?

Simone Weimans
Anne-Marijn Epker
Programme editor
Joline Vermeulen
Netherlands Commission for Unesco
The arrest of Roman Protasevich, for which the Belarusian authorities diverted a flight between two EU member states, was a brutal wake-up call for Europe. How can and should we protect journalists against attacks on the freedom of the press, and who is in charge: governments, international organisations or journalists themselves?

Not only in totalitarian states like Belarus, but also within European democracies investigative journalism has become a life-threatening profession, especially since the notion of ‘fake news media’ has created a culture of hostility towards the press – in the Netherlands, public broadcaster NOS removed its logo from its vehicles, in fear of attacks.

Freedom of the press is fundamental to well-functioning democracies, but what is left of it when critical journalists have to fear for their lives for simply doing their job?

Will investigative journalism soon be something of the past? Or can governments, international organisations, and journalists themselves contribute to creating a safe environment for journalists, and if so: what urgent actions should they take? 

About the speakers

Tasha Arlova is a Belarusian artist who recently graduated from the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam. She works with photography, performative videos and short films. Arlova is one of the founders of the Second Thoughts reading club dedicated to ‘a collective exploration on Eastern Europeanness’ and co-organiser of multiple exhibitions dedicated to Belarusian protests.

Bahia Tahzib-Lie is Human Rights Ambassador at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In this position, she promotes human rights, among which freedom of expression, worldwide. To do so, she cooperates with civil society organisations, activists, trade unions and international organisations.

Hubert Smeets is a historian, journalist and Eastern Europe expert. On a weekly basis, he writes about the tilting world order in NRC Handelsblad. Smeets is also co-initiator and coordinator of the knowledge and analysis platform Window to Russia.

Yvonne Zonderop is an author and journalist writing on various social issues for the Groene Amsterdammer, among others. She is chair of the supervisory board of Stichting Democratie en Media, that combats totalitarianism in social and political life and strives for pluralistic media, as well as member of the Netherlands Commission of Unesco.

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Tasha Arlova
Tasha ArlovaBelarusian artist and activist
Bahia Tahzib-Lie
Bahia Tahzib-LieHuman Rights Ambassador at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Hubert SmeetsHistorian, journalist and co-founder ‘Window to Russia’
Yvonne ZonderopJournalist and author