Journalists need more protection from violence and threats: Union
Threatened journalists should be offered more protection by the police, judiciary and their employers, according to a study done on behalf of journalists union NVJ. This relatively unprotected group performs an important social task and deserves the same protection as other people working for the public interest, like police officers and firefighters, the researchers conclude, Trouw reports.
The study was done by former Ombudsman Alex Brenninkmeijer and criminologist Marjlein Odekerken. According to the study, threats are especially common with journalists who write about 'sensitive' subjects like murder, child abuse, Islam, PVV leader Geert Wilders and Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Nearly half of the group of threatened journalists said they adapted their stories after being threatened.
A previous study showed that 61 percent of Dutch journalists have been threatened at least once. 80 percent of this group were physically intimidated.
Brenninkmeijer finds this very worrying. In his report he emphasizes the importance of journalists in the functioning of a democratic constitutional state. According to him, journalists need to be protected in fulfilling their duties, just as firefighters and police officers. A growing problem is that most Dutch journalists today don't work in permanent employment, and therefore don't have an employer who can stand up for them. Freelancers are more vulnerable when people or large organizations intimidate them.
Minister Stef Blok of Security and Justice took note of the study and is "seriously looking into" whether harsher penalties are required for threatening journalists. "I want to look carefully at the problem and whether that measure would help here too", he said, according to the newspaper.