The EU should guarantee better protection for journalists reporting on armed conflicts, stated the MEPs from the  Human Rights Sub-Committee on Monday. They discussed the ways to provide security for war reporters in debate with a view to the World Press Freedom Day on 3 May, announced the press office of the European Parliament. In the debate, MEPs highlighted the crucial role played by the internet in these conflicts and the growing repression of bloggers.
“Truth is the first casualty of war. That is the reason journalists have to be there and report war crimes on both sides”, said Barbara Lochbihler (Greens/EFA, DE).
Véronique De Keyser (S&D, BE), stressed the key role played by journalists and local observers. “Their work is irreplaceable for us, but what can we do behind our desks, from the EP, to protect them better?”, she asked.
“International rules already exist to protect journalists in conflict regions, but they are not always enforced”, said Reporters without Borders representative Olivier Basile, adding that the EU could do more to protect them. “Journalists who get arrested still don’t have enough diplomatic support, as was shown in Egypt”, he said. French war correspondent Anne Nivat added that journalists need help most when they return. “There have to be some conditions guaranteed, such prior training and especially psychological support when they come back”, she said.
Jean Paul Marthoz, Professor of international journalism at the University of Louvain, called on the EU institutions to introduce a “more daring” policy to protect the right to press freedom.
Marietje Schaake (ALDE, NL), highlighted the growing tendency of authoritarian regimes to repress bloggers. She also suggested regulating western information and communications technology (ICT) companies “which sometimes can become state media, like the role played by Vodafone in Egypt, shutting down communications”.