Nearly 60 percent of the respondents misjudge the ban on working for journalists on the border with Belarus, according to an Ipsos survey conducted for the organizers of the “Journalists on the border” protest. This decision of the authorities is positively assessed by 35 percent of respondents. The survey was also conducted in the context of respondents’ support for political parties.
Since the beginning of September, the Border Guard has already recorded over five thousand attempts to illegally cross the Polish border with Belarus. A state of emergency has been in force in the border zone with Belarus since September 2. It covers 183 localities. It was introduced for 30 days under the ordinance of President Andrzej Duda, issued at the request of the Council of Ministers. The government justifies the need to introduce a state of emergency with the situation on the border with Belarus, where Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s regime is waging a “hybrid war”.
READ THE PREMIUM TEXT: You do not need a state of emergency to limit access to information
Journalists are banned from working on the border with Belarus. Survey results
In an Ipsos poll for the organizers of the “Journalists on the border” protest, the question was asked: “Is it good or bad that, under the state of emergency, the authorities have banned journalists from working in the region on the border with Belarus?”
35 percent of the respondents said “good” (including 19 percent definitely and 16 percent rather). On the other hand, 59 percent of the respondents considered it “wrong” (18 percent – rather and 41 percent definitely).
The survey was also conducted in the context of support for political parties. It shows that the approval of the ban was dominant only in one group of Law and Justice voters (as much as 78 percent “good” and 14 percent “bad”), in the Confederation’s electorate there was a draw (44 to 45 percent). All other groups of voters chose the answers “wrong” – Poland 2050 (16 percent “good”, 81 percent “bad”), the Left (9 percent “good”, 90 percent “bad”), Koalicja Obywatelska (5 percent “good”, 94 percent “bad”).
Among those declaring that they do not vote in the elections, the ban on working for journalists in the region near the border with Belarus is assessed positively by 32 percent of people, and 64 percent as bad.
Ipsos telephone survey (CATI) for the organizers of the “Journalists at the border!” carried out on September 21-23, 2021 on a nationwide representative sample of adult Poles N = 1000.
Journalists at the border. Joint statement of the Polish media:
Introduced by the government of the Republic of Poland a state of emergency along the entire length of the Polish-Belarusian border excludes media activity. The regulations allow free movement of persons and entities providing a range of services and conducting business activity there – with the exception of journalists and social organizations. This must be objectionable.
We state that the actions of the authorities are contrary to the principle of freedom of speech, and are also a manifestation of the press unlawful obstruction of journalists’ work and suppression of press criticism.
We inform the authorities of the Republic of Poland and the public that we do not agree with the ban on journalists working in the border area. It means depriving us of the possibility of fulfilling the mission of our profession and depriving society of the constitutional right to information.
One of the reasons for the ban is – as it is clear from the statements of politicians – greater “work comfort” of representatives of the authorities and services, which, however, means acting without the control of the fourth authority and depriving the public of information independent of politicians.
We rely here on the opinions prepared at our request by a group of outstanding lawyers (dr Anna Rakowska-Trela, prof. Ryszard Piotrowski, prof. Ewa Łętowska, and also the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights – we will publish them one by one). We would also like to remind you that the Ombudsman on September 6, 2021, assessing the state of emergency, emphasized that the presence of the media is particularly justified in situations that “are directly related to fundamental human rights”, and that excluding access to public information for journalists “increases the risk of uncontrolled spreading false and unverified information or speculation, in particular in social media “.
According to the European Convention on Human Rights signed by Poland, “every person has the freedom to receive information without the interference of public authorities, and the role of journalists in a democratic state is to inform the public about matters of significant social interest”.
The authorities argue that the situation on the border poses threats to Poland. All the more necessary is the presence of the media (and social organizations), which are obliged to provide the public with an independent assessment of the events, including the behavior of the authorities, including informing whether foreigners who strike the border are treated in accordance with the principles of humanitarianism and international law.
Even if it is considered that the border zone is a potential military conflict, it is in such areas that the presence of the media and aid organizations is the most desirable. Eliminating them is unacceptable and incompatible with the standards of a democratic state.
We appeal to the government to change the provision and allow the media to enter the area under the state of emergency.
The media participating in the action – regardless of the form of work they choose – declare solidarity in response to the actions of the authorities limiting our professional rights.
We protest against the actions of the Police Commander from Białystok against journalists of Onet who entered the area under the state of emergency on September 3, 2021. Not stopped by the services, they reached Usnarz Górny. When Onet broadcast the recorded material, the spokesman and then the Police Commander from Białystok contacted the journalists and invited them to “quietly settle the matter”. It turned out to be a “trick” ridiculing the state services. Journalists confiscated the recording and faced criminal charges.
We ask the public to understand and support our actions. The initiative is not intended to counteract the decision to introduce a state of emergency. However, even if this decision were fully justified, it does not mean that its implementation is to take place without social control.
Our goal is – only and so on – the realization of the journalists’ right to work for the public, ensuring that the truth about the events, especially those which are so interesting and crucial for democracy, reach the public.
List of signatories of the statement
The published statement was signed by 43 editorial offices of national media and journalistic organizations.
List of the first 30 signatories in the following order: portals, television, dailies, weeklies, radio, organizations: – Onet, – Wirtualna Polska, – TVN24, – “Fakty” TVN, – Gazeta.pl, – OKO.press, – Gazeta Wyborcza, – Rzeczpospolita, – Fakt, – Super Express, – Dziennik Gazeta Prawna, – Trybuna, – POLITYKA, – Newsweek, – Tygodnik Powszechny, – Wprost, – Przegląd, – Angora, – Forum, – Polityka Insight, – Liberte !, – TOK FM , – RMF FM, – Radio Zet, – Press, – Grand Press Foundation, – Journalism Society, – Polish Journalists Association, – Reporters Without Borders, – Reporters Foundation.
The statement was presented in front of the Sejm building on September 14, 2021.
Another 13 editorial offices joined the campaign: – Tygodnik “Super Brodnica”, – NaTemat.pl website, – “Super News”, – “Wirtualny Chełm”, – “Pismo”, – Strajk.eu Portal, – “Dziennik Wschodni”, – portalmedialny.pl, – “Kraków” monthly, – “Nowiny Jeleniogórskie”, – Dziennik / Internet TV, – TV Asta and asta24.pl portal, – Journalists’ Trade Union.
Main photo source: Attila Husejnow / Forum