3 May 2011

Campaigns and Advocacy

Shadow of 9/11 attacks hangs over journalism, says IFJ on World Press Freedom Day

(IFJ/IFEX) - 2 May 2011 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) marks this year's World Press Freedom Day by focusing on the legacy of the terrorist attacks on 11 September in New York and Washington ten years ago. The Federation plans to launch a major campaign - "Journalism in the Shadow of Terror" - to consider the impact of those terrible events and to call for a reversal of the tide of legal and official intimidation of journalism and attacks on civil liberties that has followed the events of 2001.

"The last ten years have seen an alarming erosion of press freedom as governments adopted a hard line in the fight against terror," said Jim Boumelha, IFJ President. "There is no doubt that journalists have been among the prominent victims of a widespread assault on the democratic rights of all citizens and this has to change."

The IFJ says that the laws introduced in the wake of the attacks of 11 September in America such as restrictions of movement and the right to investigate public authorities and to report and to publish freely have reduced the rights of journalists.

The Federation is calling for a fresh debate on the new information landscape and how governments are responding to the challenge of groups such as Wikileaks in exposing government secrets and the impact this has on journalism.

The IFJ says there is a need to review the security legislation and its impact on the work of journalists and has called on its affiliates to promote the campaign in their annual activities and events this year.

These events highlight pressing issues for journalists in their communities, countries and regions. In Africa, the focus is on the campaign to secure the release of detained journalists in Eritrea and to lobby the African Commission on Human and People's Rights in Banjul with a view to adopting a Declaration on the safety of journalists.

In Asia Pacific region, activities will feature mainly the issue of press freedom in South East Asia and the continuing fight against impunity in the Philippines.

In Latin America, Chile will be the centre of the regional celebrations of World Press Freedom Day with important events taking place in Santiago, including an international conference on media and democracy as well the publication of a report on media concentration.

Events in Europe will highlight the impact of anti-terror legislation on the work of journalists, particularly photojournalists who are denied the right to take photographs in some popular public places in London. The same theme will be debated in Italy where a public debate on journalism under the shadow of terror as well as on the uprising in North Africa will be held and in the Netherlands during a Press Freedom Lecture entitled "Openess v. Security in Amsterdam".

Following the IFJ regional meeting on the Arab world and the Middle East held in Casablanca, Morocco, in the wake of recent popular uprisings, the affiliates in the region are planning activities to promote the IFJ campaign for solidarity with journalists on the frontline of the Arab spring.

"The range of concerns being raised by journalists around the world shows press freedom still faces formidable challenges," said Elisabeth Costa, IFJ General Secretary. "We therefore need to redouble our efforts and remain organised and united to defend our members' interests."

For further information on all these activities, please click here


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