Two of the journalists we invited to join us in Poland were rejected entirely, after having booked their travel and accommodations. While the embassy had no problem with communicating the numerous and ever-changing requirements they had for the visa applications, they refused to tell us on what basis these professionals were rejected, and thus were prohibited from taking advantage of an opportunity to meet their colleagues, learn new techniques and in a small way contribute to press freedom in their own countries.
The next time you hear European representatives criticizing the harsh media regimes of other countries, ask yourself: what are those representatives doing to help improve the situation, and in what ways are they making it worse?
Most of the world’s countries are bound by the human rights accords that protect a person’s right to leave their country, but this right is meaningless without the reciprocal right to enter another country. During a time of increasing restrictions, Europe ought to show it takes press freedom seriously, and stop blocking journalists from doing their jobs.
We won’t know what a truly representative and diverse media landscape looks like until they do.