Hamburg, 18 May 2009 – Conference to Adopt the ;lsquo;European Charter for Press Freedom' on May 25 in Hamburg
Around 50 editors-in-chief and leading journalists from 20 countries plan to ratify the first "European Charter for Press Freedom" on 25 May 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 unimpeded access for journalists and citizens to all domestic and foreign sources of information.
Following its ratification on 25 May at the G+J Pressehaus on Baumwall in Hamburg, 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.
The conference in Hamburg, which is jointly backed by the Gruner + Jahr and Axel Springer publishing companies, will also be attended by journalists from non-EU countries including Russia, Belarus, Serbia and Turkey. About a dozen representatives of other European media who will not be attending the conference have already indicated they will sign the charter, which consists of ten articles.
The new 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. The initiative was preceded by an attempt by European publishers and journalists' associations to draw up such a document in Brussels. These talks, however, had failed. Both the negotiations in Brussels and the Hamburg conference were initiated by Hans-Ulrich Jörges, a journalist with stern magazine.
The response from eastern Europe has been especially strong: The conference in Hamburg will be attended by leading media representatives from twelve countries in eastern and southeast European countries alone. Once it is ratified, all European journalists and media will be invited to add their signatures to the charter. It will be presented online on a special website for this purpose. 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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