International press groups are calling on the next head of the Council of Europe to prioritise press freedom.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) joined 21 other press freedom organisations in sending an open letter to Secretary-General of the Council of Europe, Marija Pejcinovic Buric.
They are calling on her to prioritise press freedom and the safety of journalists among the council's 47 member states.
The CPJ is a member of the Council of Europe's Platform for the Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists, created to hold member states accountable for press freedom violations.
The letter, which was sent on Ms Buric's first day in office on Wednesday, expressed particular concern over the media freedom environments in Azerbaijan, Poland, Hungary, Italy, Turkey and Russia.
The letter also asked her to establish a monthly exchange among member states, where members could discuss the progress they had made in dealing with press freedom and journalist safety issues.
"Media freedom and media pluralism must be given a clear and consistent priority across the Council of Europe area, as they enable the public to make informed choices about their government and society, and are thus prerequisites for the full enjoyment of all other rights", the letter says.
"We are convinced that strong and concerted political action from member states and the Council of Europe is now essential.
"We request your energetic support against the ongoing impunity for attacks including murders of journalists within Europe, and against widespread attempts to adopt severely restrictive legislation on media regulation, defamation, anti-terrorism that are increasingly used to criminalise journalists.
"Anti-media rhetoric is creating a toxic atmosphere for journalists amongst the general public and must be countered.
"The spread of online disinformation intensifies this effect."
The groups have requested a meeting with Ms Buric to discuss press freedom issues soon.
Main image: Marija Pejcinovic Buric | Image: © Council of Europe