Hamburg, 25 May 2009 – 46 Journalists from 19 Countries Adopt ;lsquo;European Charter for Press Freedom' in Hamburg
On May 25, 46 editors-in-chief and leading journalists from 19 countries adopted and ratified the first "European Charter for Press Freedom" in Hamburg. The charter formulates principles for the freedom of the press/media from government interference – in particular for their right to safety from surveillance, electronic eavesdropping and searches of editorial departments and computers, and to unimpeded access for journalists and citizens to all domestic and foreign sources of information.
The charter formulates principles for the freedom of the press/media from government interference – in particular for their right to safety from surveillance, electronic eavesdropping and searches of editorial departments and computers, and to unimpeded access for journalists and citizens to all domestic and foreign sources of information.
The charter will be notified to the EU Commission in Brussels to assert its validity throughout the European Union and make its adoption a condition in EU accession negotiations.
In his welcome speech, G+J CEO Dr. Bernd Buchholz asserted that "journalists must be able to work freely and independently of government interference": The power of the press and the duty to exercise this power in moderation, should not be underestimated. He expressed his support for the Charter's efforts to jointly represent the importance of press freedom.
The conference in Hamburg, which was jointly backed by the Gruner + Jahr and Axel Springer publishing companies, was attended by journalists from non-EU countries as well, including Russia, Belarus, Serbia and Turkey. 27 representatives of other European media who were unable to attend the conference had already indicated in advance that they would sign the charter.
The Charter consists of the ten following articles:
Freedom of the press is essential to a democratic society. To uphold and protect it, and to respect its diversity and its political, social and cultural missions, is the mandate of all governments.;nbsp;
Censorship is impermissible. Independent journalism in all media is free of persecution and repression, without a guarantee of political or regulatory interference by government. Press and online media should not be subject to state licensing.;nbsp;
The right of journalists and media to gather and disseminate information and opinions must not be threatened, restricted or be made subject to punishment.
The protection of journalistic sources shall be strictly upheld. Surveillance of, electronic eavesdropping on or searches of newsrooms, private rooms or journalists' computers with the aim of identifying sources of information or infringing on editorial confidentiality are unacceptable.
All states must ensure that the media have the full protection of the law and the authorities while carrying out their role. This applies in particular to defending journalists and their employees from physical attack. Threats to or violations of these rights must be carefully investigated and punished by the judiciary.
The economic livelihood of the media must not be endangered by the state or by state-controlled institutions. The threat of economic sanctions is also unacceptable.
State or state-controlled institutions shall not hinder the freedom of access of the media and journalists to information. They have a duty to support them in their mandate to provide information.
Media and journalists have a right to unimpeded access to all news and information sources, including those from abroad. For their reporting, foreign journalists should be provided with visas, accreditation and other required documents without delay.
The public of any state shall be granted free access to all national and foreign media and sources of information.
The government shall not restrict entry into the profession of journalism.
The charter was drafted by journalists of leading German print media – stern, Spiegel, Focus, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Frankfurter Rundschau, Tageszeitung (taz), Bild, Die Zeit and National Geographic – on the initiative of Hans-Ulrich Jörges, a journalist with stern magazine.
The response from eastern Europe was especially strong: The conference in Hamburg was attended by media representatives from twelve countries in eastern and southeast European countries alone. Following its ratification, all European journalists and media will be invited to add their signatures to the charter. It will be presented online at www.pressfreedom.eu for this purpose; the site will go live beginning at 7.00 p.m. this evening for further signatures from journalists.
The idea is that journalists all over Europe will be able to cite the charter in cases of conflict with the state or with state-controlled institutions, and to call on their international colleagues for help and support
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