How should journalists be protected?
In May 2015, the Chairman of the National Broadcasting Council held consultations on the Council of Europe document "Draft recommendation of the Committee of Ministers to member States on the protection of journalism and safety of journalists and other media actors".
The Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, Ministry of Administration and Digitization, Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (HFPC) and Polish Journalists Association (SDP) took part in the consultations.
The draft was strongly supported by SDP and HFPC, who noted, however, that the document lacked any obligation to execute judgements of the European Court of Human Rights.
The Ministry of Justice challenged the recommendation to eliminate criminal liability for defamation (in Poland, Article 212 of the Criminal Code), citing the arguments used by the Constitutional Tribunal in its 2004 judgement and mentioning the reduction in sentence for violating Article 212 of the Criminal Code, from two years' to one year's imprisonment, made during amendments to the Criminal Code in 2009.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted the lack of consistency between the Draft and documents issued by other Council of Europe bodies, e.g. those of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance. In the conclusions of one of its reports, the Commission proposes punishment for inciting discrimination and public defamation under certain conditions. It also declares itself in favour of expanding bans on public denial, trivialization, justification, and praise of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. In addition, it considers a ban on racist public expression of any ideology proclaiming the superiority of one group of people over others to be necessary.
The Ministry of the Interior called attention to the presence of solutions in the draft recommendation which already exist in Poland, not only with regard to journalists, but to all people.
The Minister of Culture and National Heritage held that the draft recommendation merits a positive opinion and should be implemented, in particular the recommendation of regular and independent reviews of the legal framework of Member States. The solution is particularly valuable in view of some states' failure to implement the recommendations of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe as well as the scale of violation of journalists' rights in some of the Council of Europe member states.
Taking into account the demands voiced during consultations, the KRRiT Chairman gave the draft recommendation a positive assessment, recognizing that it may improve the safety of journalists and other media actors.