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MFRR Summit | Criminalising Europe’s Free Press: Legislative Threats to Media Freedom

19. March 2021 @ 12:00 - 13:00


Laws that target media freedom reconfigure the landscape away from journalists, media workers and outlets. Throughout 2020, countries across Europe, oftentimes using the COVID-19 pandemic as cover, took to creating, reforming or rescinding different laws with an aim to undermine journalistic safety, media pluralism, as well as the transparency and accountability of those in power. Where the rule of law is weak, these laws are enacted with little opposition and scrutiny, leaving journalists having to navigate a new and curtailed landscape, within which they continue to hold the powerful to account. This leaves too many journalists vulnerable to regulatory abuses, arrest and detention, fines or the closure of outlets or platforms. Led by ARTICLE 19, this panel will dissect the legal landscapes of Albania, France and Turkey, looking at proposed defamation reform, restrictions on the press’s engagement with police and a systemic erosion of the legal foundation that protects journalism.


  • Dr Yaman Akdeniz, İfade Özgürlüğü Derneği (Turkey)
  • Besar Likmeta, BIRN Albania (Albania)
  • Sarah Massoud, Syndicat de la Magistrature (France)
  • CHAIR: Sarah Clarke, ARTICLE 19 (UK)

Dr. Yaman Akdeniz

Dr. Yaman Akdeniz is a Professor of Law at the Faculty of Law, Istanbul Bilgi University and one of the founders of the İfade Özgürlüğü Derneği, (İFÖD) a freedom of expression association. Akdeniz successfully applied twice to the Constitutional Court to overturn access blocking decisions involving Twitter and YouTube platforms from Turkey and more recently also was one of the successful applicants to overturn the Wikipedia blocking decision at the Constitutional Court level. Akdeniz also successfully challenged together with his colleagues the Turkish Government at the European Court of Human Rights with regards to the blocking of YouTube from Turkey.

Besar Likmeta

Besar Likmeta has been the country editor for BIRN Albania since 2007, and serves as the editor in chief of its award-winning publication Reporter.al. He started his career reporting for the Florida Times Union in Jacksonville, Florida. He has been Albania correspondent for Balkan Insight and has also contributed stories to various publications including The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, Global Post, Transitions Online and Foreign Policy. In 2009 he received the CEI/SEEMO Award for Outstanding Merits in Investigative Journalism and in 2010 was runner up to the Global Shining Light Award. Likmeta studied philosophy at the University of North Florida.

Sarah Massoud

Sarah Massoud is a member of the national office of the judges’ trade union (Syndicat de la magistrature), as National Secretary. The union was born in the aftermath of May 68 and advocates for the defence of fundamental rights and freedoms and for an independent judiciary in order to allow equal justice for all. When she is not working on trade union action, she officiates as a judge of liberties and detention at the Bobigny judicial court. She previously held the positions of examining magistrate and deputy public prosecutor in Ile de France.

Sarah Clarke

Sarah Clarke is Head of the Europe and Central Asia team at ARTICLE 19. Between 2012 and 2018, she led PEN International’s policy and advocacy work, overseeing its engagement with the UN and regional human rights mechanisms and governments. She is the author of numerous PEN International reports concerning legal restrictions on free expression and the protection of writers and journalists at risk. She has a particular interest in freedom of expression in Turkey, where she has led numerous advocacy missions, trial observations and the amicus interventions on the priority cases of journalists before the European Court of Human Rights. Sarah has consulted for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, OSCE and Oxford and Harvard universities. She is currently training as a barrister at the English Bar where she is an Exhibition Scholar of the Inner Temple.


19. March 2021
12:00 - 13:00
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