International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its European group, the
European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) today joined their affiliate, the
National Union of Journalists in the UK and Ireland
(NUJ), in condemning the secrecy of
a preliminary hearing at a court in Belfast dealing with an application
submitted by the Police Service in Northern Ireland
(PSNI) to force Belfast journalist Suzanne Breen to hand over confidential
Tom Burgess heard the evidence which was not made available to Ms Breen or her
legal team and ruled that he "was minded to grant the application" but said he can
still change his mind when he hears the full case which is anticipated to take
place at the Recorder's Court on Friday May 29th.
of sources is a cardinal principle of journalism and Suzanne Breen's right to
resist must be supported by every affiliate of the IFJ," said Jim Boumelha, IFJ
President. "This is one of numerous cases where journalists have put themselves
on the line to protect confidential sources, a critical tool for investigative
reporters, and where the judicial system is used to intimidate journalists."
to reports, the closed hearing on the PSNI application to force Suzanne Breen
and the Dublin-based Sunday Tribune to hand over confidential material was held
on Friday and neither the journalist's nor the paper's legal teams were present.
police are seeking a court order on Ms Breen to surrender her notes, recording
material, mobile phone and other material relating to the Real IRA.
IFJ says that the protection of sources is a right guaranteed by the European
Convention on Human Rights and has been consistently upheld by the European Court of
are deeply concerned by the failure to avail our colleagues with the
opportunity to defend such a fundamental right in this application," added
NUJ points out that Suzanne Breen
and her legal team will have to prepare their response "with their hand tied
behind their back". "It is bad enough that a journalist should be faced with
the prospect of going to jail in order to protect confidential sources of
information but to face such a threat based on evidence given in private is an
affront to the principles of natural justice." said NUJ
Irish Secretary Séamus Dooley.
for a major campaign to defend Ms Breen and the Sunday Tribune will be discussed at the forthcoming annual meeting of the European Federation of Journalists
taking place in Varna (Bulgaria) at
the week end.
EFJ recently published a policy document on protection of sources in Europe available at: http://europe.ifj.org/en/articles/efj-policy-document-on-protection-of-sources
For more information contact the IFJ
at +32 2 235 2207
The IFJ represents over 600,000
journalists in 123 countries worldwide