PiS’s defeat does not diminish the threat of media capture – particularly in countries where smaller markets can leave media more vulnerable to state pressure – and must not distract European policy makers from building the necessary safeguards.
Drafted in cooperation with Polish experts and media, the recommendations are addressed to the future members of Parliament and Government.
Recent media freedom mission finds press and journalists in Poland facing legal threats, financial precarity, political pressure, regulatory capture and growing polarisation.
Polish Minister of Justice and Prosecutor General Zbigniew Ziobro accused RSF of “hypocrisy without limits”, making “untrue claims” and trying to impose a “political agenda” on Polish media.
Political attacks, regulatory investigations and bill to amplify state propaganda channels fire starting gun on pre-election pressure.
Pablo González was arrested in February 2022 on the Polish-Ukrainian border, where he was reporting on the humanitarian crisis that followed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
After dousing the Russian ambassador in fake blood during a protest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Iryna Zemlyana was doxxed on Russian Telegram channels and received several threats to rape and kill her.
The families of Wojciech Czuchnowski and Tomasz Lis have received death threats for “betraying the motherland”. Czuchnowski recently covered the alleged use of Pegasus surveillance spyware against opposition politicians; Lis has often published reports that are critical of Poland’s ruling party.
These groundbreaking cases mark the first direct challenges to be filed before the ECtHR against Poland’s abortion law and the 2020 Constitutional Tribunal ruling. Nine leading international human rights organisations have filed third-party interventions in these cases.
IFEX joins media freedom and journalists’ groups in expressing concern over the “Lex-TVN” bill, stressing that it represents a direct attack on the independence of the country’s biggest private broadcaster, U.S-owned TVN, and its news channel TVN24.
Journalist Ewa Siedlecka was convicted of criminal defamation in a case brought by two judges acting in a private capacity. Media Freedom Rapid Response partners fear that this verdict could pave the way for a wider criminalisation of expressing an opinion based on information present in the public space.
While Poland’s leading independent broadcaster TVN is currently under threat from an amendment to the broadcast law, the government has banned journalists from reporting from along the border with Belarus.
“In Hungary, Poland and Turkey, increasing control of ruling parties over state-controlled companies, advertising agencies, media regulators, competition watchdogs and even the courts, has allowed for a steady intensification and diversification of campaigns against critical press.”