Harsher punishments for violence against journalists; hotline launched

The Dutch authorities launched a Safe Press project on Monday with the goal to better protect journalists and help ensure that they can do their jobs safely. The project includes the police and Public Prosecutor giving high priority to finding perpetrators of violence or aggression against journalists, harsher punishment demands for these crimes, and a hotline where journalists can report incidents, the police said in a statement.

The project is an initiative of the Dutch association for journalists NVJ, the Association for Chief Editors, the police, and the Public Prosecution Services. The project was launched due to an increasing number of serious threats and violent incidents targeting journalists, the police said. 

A study by former ombudsman Alex Brenninkmeijer​ and Marjolein Odekerken​ showed that 61 percent of journalists faced threats in 2017. For 30 percent of them this happened on a weekly or monthly basis. The vast majority of journalists said they found this development a threat to the freedom of the press. Last year there were attacks on the buildings housing Panorama and De Telegraaf. And Telegraaf journalist John van den Heuvel and Het Parool journalist Paul Vughts had to be placed under extra security due to threats, the police said.

On Monday a hotline was launched where journalists can report incidents of aggression or violence against them. Later this year the website will be expanded with information and advice about criminal offenses, how to report incidents to employers and clients, reporting incidents to the police, and how to deal with the aftermath.

In the autumn a security plan will be presented for editors, publishers, broadcasters and new journalists with measures that should be taken after a threat or violent incident. There will also be training courses and workshops for journalists, students, and managers on how to deal with aggression and violence. 



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