The European Union’s executive arm asked its member countries on Thursday, September 16 2021, to better protect journalists amid a rise of physical attacks and online threats against media professionals.

According to the European Commission, 908 journalists and media workers were attacked across the 27-nation bloc in 2020.

A total of 23 journalists have been killed in the EU since 1992, with the majority of the killings taking place during the past six years.

“No journalist should die or be harmed because of their job. We need to support and protect journalists; they are essential for democracy,” said Vera Jourova, the commission vice-president for values and transparency.

“The pandemic has showed more than ever the key role of journalists to inform us. And the urgent need for public authorities to do more to protect them.”

Murders of reporters remain rare in Europe, but the killings of journalists in Slovakia and Malta in recent years have raised concerns about reporters’ safety in developed, democratic societies.

of female journalists have experienced online violence and the commission said EU countries should “support initiatives aimed at empowering women journalists and professionals belonging to minority groups and those reporting on equality issues”.

The bloc’s executive arm also proposed the creation of support services, including helplines, legal advice, and psychological support.

It insisted on the need to ensure reporters’ safety during demonstrations, where most of the attacks take place.

 It also added that, “Member states should provide regular training for law enforcement authorities to ensure that journalists and other media professionals are able to work safely and without restrictions during such events,” the commission said.

Noting that digital and online safety has become a “major concern”

“Relevant national cyber security bodies should, upon request, assist journalists who seek to determine whether their devices or online accounts have been compromised, in obtaining the services of cyber security forensic investigators,” the commission said.