News

February 28, 2020

Greek public broadcaster censors reports from islands about new migrant camps

Lesbos / AFP
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns Greek public TV and radio broadcaster ERT’s censorship of reporting from islands where a new influx of migrants and the creation of new migrant camps has triggered protests. Coverage of such a crucial subject clearly serves the public interest, RSF said.

Reports from the islands about clashes between residents and police can no longer be posted on the ERT website by regional correspondents unless they first obtain the management’s approval. The censorship began when a reporter posted an article about the violent clashes that had been taking place for several days between riot police and residents of the Greek island of Lesbos over the new migrant camps there. Until then, the ERT website’s regional correspondents had enjoyed a degree of autonomy in the choice of articles to be published. But, a few hours after the author of this story refused to comply with the management’s request to remove it, her colleagues discovered that they could no longer post their own stories without first asking the management’s permission. ERT news chief Yiannis Daskalakis confirmed this change of policy to regional radio station director Michalis Messinis.

 

“The ERT management’s censorship of journalists working at the front line of the migrant crisis must stop,” RSF editor-in-chief Pauline Adès-Mével said. “In view of the scale and intensity of the anti-migrant clashes on several Greek islands, it is essential that local journalists are able to cover incidents freely and provide the Greek public with full and transparent reporting.”

 

Although the prime minister has made it harder to obtain asylum and residence permits, the number of migrants keeps on growing. Greek society is increasingly polarized by the issue and journalists covering the migrant crisis are exposed to more and more harassment and threats.Far-right activists attacked German journalist Thomas Jacobi during an anti-migrant protest in Athens a few weeks ago. A journalist covering the refugee issue in Lesbos was the target of online harassment by far-right activists in 2018, while the defence ministry brought a defamation suit against three other reporters covering the same subject.

 

Greece is ranked 65th out of 180 countries in RSF's latest World Press Freedom Index.