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Monitoring of local media freedom completed

Over the last two years the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights operated the project “The Monitoring of Threats for the Free Media in Poland and the Reinforcement of the Control Function of the Local Media”.

“We aimed at increasing the level of protection for the freedom of speech at a local level, both in traditional and electronic media”, says Dorota Głowacka, Project Coordinator.

As part of the project HFHR staff conducted more than 40 study visits to local press editorial offices. “The picture that emerges from our talks with journalists confirms our initial concerns that local media are more prone to various threats and pressures”, says Adam Ploszka, HFHR’s lawyer.

Lawyers working for the project also prepared comments to draft laws on the freedom of speech, addressing such issues as the abolishment of criminal liability for defamation or amendment to the press registration rules.

“As part of the project we have organised a series of conferences and meetings devoted to the key challenges to the protection of the freedom of speech, Ms Głowacka adds. These events resulted in four book publications discussing such issues as online hate speech, problems of Internet media and the freedom of expression in the artistic field.

HFHR lawyers also provided legal assistance to journalists in individual cases and developed two informational brochures on defamation and threats to the media in election periods.

A key element of the project was the blogger platform “Local monitoring of the freedom of the media”. Volunteers recruited by the HFHR observed and reported on their blogs incidents which threatened the freedom of speech at the local level.

The Foundation implemented the project in partnership with the Centre for Human Rights of the Faculty of Law and Administration, University of Warsaw, and the Department of Human Rights at the Faculty of Political Science, Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin. The project received a co-financing of PLN 171,016 from Switzerland under the heading of the Swiss Programme for Cooperation with New EU Member States.

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