Polish protests against press restrictions continue

19 December 2016

Today marks the fourth day of protests in the Polish capital, Warsaw, against government plans to restrict press access to parliament.

Opposition MPs have been holding a sit-in at the country’s parliament, with protesters gathering outside the building.

Polish President Andrzej Duda, formerly a member of the governing Law and Justice Party (PiS) and still close to the party, has held talks with opposition leaders, who demand that proposed press restrictions be dropped. In addition, the opposition insists on a new parliamentary vote on next year’s budget, after the vote on the 2017 budget was held by pro-government MPs in a smaller parliament hall without the presence of the press on Friday.

Opposition MPs claim that the PiS is restricting press freedom with its plans to limit the number of journalists permitted to cover parliamentary activity, with only five (likely carefully selected) Polish television channels allowed to record or broadcast parliamentary sessions.

Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo has dubbed the sit-in by opposition MPs “scandalous”, while pro-government groups have also staged demonstrations in Warsaw. Talks on the issue are set to continue today.

This is not the first media-related scandal to hit the Polish government since the conservative government took power last year. In January 2016, President Andrzej Duda signed into law a controversial new media bill that saw the government tightening its control on state media.

Source: BBC News