Polish Government threatens media access to Parliament

21 December 2016

A move to curb journalists’ access to the national parliament in Poland has sparked widespread criticism from press organisations and opposition parties. The rules proposed are the latest in a string of policies restricting the media since the conservative Law and Justice Party (PiS) government took power.

The head office of the Sejm, the lower house of the Polish parliament, plans to limit permissions to record parliamentary sessions to five selected TV stations as well as limit the number of journalists allowed in the building. Each media outlet would be limited to two accreditations.

The plan also calls for a media centre to be opened in a nearby building to the Parliament where politicians can brief journalists. However, opposition parties fear this move is designed to control the message and limit journalists’ ability to properly question politicians.

A spokeswoman for the PiS party denied the rules represent a restriction on the rights of journalists but the plan will be seen in light of the government’s previous actions to tighten its control over public news media and state prosecution and weaken the country’s highest court.

The rules, which would affect significantly damage news organisations’ ability to fully inform citizens on the Parliament’s activities, are due to take effect next year.

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