1 March 2021

The Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) announces the first MFRR Summit, taking place online between 17th and 20th March. Locked Down: Protecting Europe’s Free Press will feature keynote speeches by Irene Khan and Věra Jourová, and bring together 32 journalists and experts from 16 countries to explore the threats facing media freedom in Europe across eight panels and two workshops

The MFRR monitors, tracks and responds to media freedom violations in EU Member States and Candidate Countries. In its first year, through Mapping Media Freedom, 378 alerts (with 1159 attacked persons or entities related to media) were documented in 29 out of 33 countries in the MFRR region. This demonstrates an urgent need to bring people from across the continent together to interrogate the threats to media freedom, from the COVID-19 pandemic to protest movements, state capture to vexatious lawsuits, and from online smear campaigns to police violence.

The keynote session on 17th March will be introduced by Věra Jourová, Vice-President for Values and Transparency in the EU Commission. The MFRR is also honoured to welcome Irene Khan, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Freedom of Opinion and Expression to deliver the online keynote, offering a global picture of media freedom and what needs to change to protect journalists. This session will also premiere a short documentary featuring at-risk journalists, whistleblowers and media workers from across Europe, filmed during lockdown. 

Leading journalists and experts will be joining the MFRR summit. They include Margo Smit, the News Ombudsman for Dutch public broadcasters; Piotr Pacewicz, the founder of OKO.Press (Poland); Tamara Filipovic Stevanovic, the Secretary General of the Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia (Serbia); Stoyan Tonchev, the editor of Liberta.bg (Bulgaria); Veronika Munk, the co-editor-in-chief of Telex (Hungary); Besar Likmeta, the editor of BIRN Albania (Albania); Ameer Alhalbi, award-winning Syrian photojournalist (France) and Patricia Devlin, an at-risk Northern Irish journalist for Sunday World (UK). Each participant will bring their expertise and experiences from across Europe to the summit to help us understand what needs to change to ensure Europe’s press remains free.

Spread across eight panel discussions held online over four days, the summit will explore a wide range of important topics, including: 

  • The impact of COVID-19 on media freedom and the public’s right to know; 
  • The dangers of covering demonstrations and protests across Europe; 
  • The impact of police actions on media freedom; 
  • How states silence independent scrutiny through the capture of outlets and regulators; 
  • The wielding of SLAPPs to silence critical reporting by the wealthy, powerful and thin-skinned; 
  • Modifying the legal landscape to criminalise critical reporting, isolate journalists and target media freedom, and; 
  • Fighting the normalisation of online harassment and smear campaigns across Europe. 

The summit will also feature a year in review for the MFRR partners to share their experiences from 2020 and the presentation of OBCT research about needs and gaps of protection systems in Europe. There will also be two participatory workshops to offer practical support as to how to become media freedom watch dogs through Mapping Media Freedom and address threats of online harassment. 

The MFRR Summit is an opportunity to show solidarity with at-risk journalists, understand the media freedom environment across Europe and collaborate to identify ways we can protect journalists,  media workers, whistleblowers and outlets and defend media freedom and the public’s right to know.


Here all the links to register and participate.

Here the details:


17th March

Keynote 10:00, 17th March 2021 (Duration: 80 minutes)

Registration Link: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_GRRCtZUvQ9KW8rjUeX_Cig 

Panel Discussion – COVID-19: Pandemics, Public Health and Press Freedom
12:00, 17th March 2021 (Duration: 60 minutes)

Registration Link: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Hf4dqFrKQqau4hL_2yv6tA 

Panel Discussion – State Capture: Undermining Independence of Media Outlets and Regulators
13:30, 17th March 2021 (Duration: 60 minutes)

Registration Link: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_N3cEsWMoTpuj7ePzvjvXRA 

18th March

Panel Discussion – Protect or Persecute?: Police Threats to Europe’s Journalists
12:00, 18th March 2021 (Duration: 60 minutes)

Registration Link: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_3xs5TB-PRY-GsLYhvUsClw 

Panel Discussion – Protests: A Media Freedom Flashpoint across Europe
13:30, 18th March 2021 (Duration: 60 minutes)

Registration Link: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Nf6KnKHjSKeacrq9G6IbbQ

Workshop – Mapping Media Freedom: Learn how to be a media freedom watchdog
16:00, 18th March 2021 (Duration:60 minutes)

Registration Link: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_D5QZlcHbR4OTND2fvf-QQQ 

19th March

Panel Discussion – Criminalising Europe’s Free Press: Legislative Threats to Media Freedom
12:00, 19th March 2021 (Duration: 60 minutes)

Registration Link: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_QHfp795ITDOBgy-Pc2XhaQ 

Panel Discussion – Sued into Silence: The use of SLAPPs to intimidate and silence journalists across Europe
13:30, 19th March 2021 (Duration: 60 minutes)

Registration Link: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_2_F97hw8Qj6aHhjVpEYfdg 

Workshop. Online Harassment: Mitigating the emotional and professional impact of online hate
16:00, 19th March 2021 (Duration: 70 minutes)

Registration Link: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_EZCDniLGTROFigUMN_zF3w

20th March

Panel Discussion – A Hostile Continent: Online harassment, threats and smear campaigns
12:00, 20th March 2021 (Duration: 60 minutes)

Registration Link: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_tYQ7wjFlRxW4euhvre-QTg 

Panel Discussion – The Media Freedom Rapid Response: A Year in Review
13:30, 20th March 2021 (Duration: 60 minutes)

Registration Link: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_EoyBHnLiT5-gxqC8VrmZew


This publication was produced within the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), co-funded by the European Commission. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of Osservatorio Balcani Caucaso Transeuropa and its partners and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.