NEW YORK — — Journalists around the world are calling on the United Nations to protect journalists from a government clampdown on press freedoms and for the U.S. to stop its support for repressive governments.
A new report by Human Rights Watch accuses the U., France, Germany and Italy of using the International Criminal Court and the International Crimes Tribunal to investigate journalists and journalists’ families for crimes against humanity.
The report, issued Friday, is based on interviews with more than 60 journalists, human rights activists and family members of journalists killed or disappeared since 2011.
It also cites other recent cases, including the case of journalist Michael Hastings, who died in a helicopter crash in Ontario.
“The U.N. has made significant progress in its efforts to protect the press in the past year, but this report highlights serious gaps in the system,” said Sophie Richardson, senior Middle East and North Africa researcher at Human Rights Foundation.
The U to FranceThe French government is among the countries using the ICC to investigate press freedom, Human Rights WATCH said.
French authorities have sought to shut down media outlets including Radio France Internationale, Le Monde and Le Figaro.
Last year, French prosecutors accused Le Mond of covering up the death of journalist Xavier Leroy, who was shot to death in 2010.
A few months ago, France passed a law allowing the country’s national prosecutor to investigate crimes against journalists, including those committed by state-owned media, including Radio 1.
The law also requires media outlets to notify authorities of any violations of press freedom within 24 hours.
In September, the U, the EU and China signed an agreement to improve the enforcement of press freedoms around the globe.
The EU also recently signed a new law aimed at improving press freedom around the country.
“Journalists’ lives are under assault and they’re under siege,” said Maria Farrar, the director of the media and society program at the New America Foundation.
“If we don’t see the U to stand up for them, they’re going to be silenced.”
France has not been shy about its crackdown on the press.
In May, the French president ordered the arrest of more than 1,000 journalists and ordered the closure of five media outlets, including French daily Le Monda.
A month later, the government also announced the closure or jailing of more of France’s other media outlets.
“This is a real attempt to silence dissent,” said Farrat.
“They are using the courts to silence journalists and people who challenge their policies.”
GermanyThe German government has also been criticized for its alleged support of repressive regimes and has been criticized by rights groups for allowing the arrest and prosecution of hundreds of journalists, journalists’ relatives and others for their work.
The government has denied any involvement in the arrests.
Human Rights Watch said it found evidence that at least six journalists have been arrested for their reporting in Germany since 2011, including one journalist who died of a heart attack while in detention in January, as well as at least three journalists who were tortured in police custody in 2015.
“Germany’s policies in protecting journalists have allowed the repression of journalists and the destruction of media freedoms, as has its response to the ongoing crackdown on media freedom in the country,” Richardson said.
“Germany should end the use of the International Court of Justice for criminal investigations and the use it is becoming increasingly used to attack journalists, and allow the International Human Rights Commission to provide independent legal assistance for journalists.”
The European UnionThe EU has also come under fire for its support of governments and institutions that it has accused of using their influence to silence criticism of the European Union and its policies, including governments in Greece, Romania and Hungary.
In 2015, Human Right Watch issued a report criticizing the European Commission for “unfair and counterproductive” policies in its treatment of Greece.
The report also called for the European Parliament to be more proactive in defending journalists and human rights.
“Press freedom and media freedom are crucial pillars of democracy, but governments often use their political power to silence and intimidate journalists and civil society groups,” Richardson added.
“The European Commission must continue to speak out against governments that continue to use intimidation tactics against journalists and other civil society organizations.”
ItalyThe Italian government has not publicly responded to the report.
In a statement, it said it is “truly troubled by the situation of the press” and “cannot imagine a situation in which the public trust can be maintained.”