Increase in attacks against journalists
By international standards the Dutch media remain stoutly independent. The government upholds press freedom inside and outside the country. Disturbing trends are nevertheless visible: extremist populist politicians attack the legitimacy of established media; foreign governments sometimes press Dutch politicians to intervene when journalists report negatively about their countries.
The new legislation under which Dutch citizens traveling to an area ‘controlled by terrorist groups’ must request prior permission from the justice ministry has been strongly condemned. Journalists complain that this law, part of the effort to counter international terrorism, interferes with their freedom to carry out their work in conflict zones. The law has already passed in the lower house of parliament and is currently under review by the Dutch senate. Critics are calling for an exemption clause to be inserted for journalists.
At a national level aggression against journalists remains a serious source of concern. Online attacks, including death threats, against journalists and their families appear almost incessantly. In their report ‘An unsafe climate’, published in May 2019, researchers Dr. Marjolein Odekerken and Laura Das concluded that about fifty percent of Dutch female journalists have experienced violence, intimidation or threats in connection with their work. Female freelancers and women reporters with an immigrant background are mentioned as being specially vulnerable.
The Dutch authorities have had considerable success in their efforts to protect journalists from criminals who try to intimidate or even murder them. Two major suspects alleged to have ordered many national and international killings, as well as several of their henchmen, have recently been arrested. The crime syndicate held responsible for several attempts to attack or kill journalists appears to have been dismantled. But several journalists still require police protection.
4 in 2019
8.63 in 2019