We advised a Latvian mass media platform and their journalists concerning the initiation of criminal proceedings due to lasting and repeated persecution of the journalists, including threats and unwelcome, persistent, and disruptive communication with particular representatives of this media platform.
Pro bono assistance to media platform and journalists
Affected by a third party’s repeated threatening, aggressive and rude behaviour, the work of the media platform and journalists was disrupted, causing reasonable fear for their safety. This behaviour gave grounds to conclude that there was an actual possibility that a criminal offence had been committed. With the aim of stopping these illegal activities by initiating criminal proceedings, we provided pro bono (free of charge) assistance to the respective mass media platform and journalists in drafting an application for the initiation of criminal proceedings.
Obligation to remove threats
As early as 2016, the Council of Europe asked state authorities to comply with the obligation to remove threats in cases where they were aware of risks caused to a journalist by some other party’s criminal behaviour, and to take efficient measures to eliminate these threats. Likewise, in 2020, the European Parliament reported that intimidation of journalists, threats and intimidation had become more widespread in recent years. Moreover, since 2019 the protection of journalists in Latvia has been widely discussed, considering that the journalists were exposed to actions that hinder their work, which is necessary for a democratic society to function properly.
We hope not only that more attention will be drawn to the protection of journalists but that it will also lead to efficient operations by law enforcement institutions to stop these unlawful actions and to protect media representatives. These third parties’ threatening and aggressive behaviour, which causes real fear among journalists about their safety and the safety of their relatives, cannot be acceptable in a democratic society.