EFJ Adds to Growing International Pressure on Estonia to Reject "Anti Press Freedom "Draft Law

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) has joined

European and global press and journalists' organisations in calling on the

Estonian Parliament to reject a proposal for a new law that would force

journalists to reveal their sources or risk being sent to prison. Newspaper

publishers and journalists have expressed their deep concern that the draft law

now being considered by the Estonian Parliament "poses a serious threat to

freedom of the press".

"Unfortunately we are seeing a lot of threats against the

journalists sources in many European countries, to fight this trend is a

priority for the journalist organisations in Europe", says Arne König, President

of the European Federation of Journalists. "The government of Estonia and the Estonian politicians

must realise that they would tamper with the democratic rights of their citizens

if they introduce this kind of legislation that now is proposed. We urge them

them to reconsider and drop this harmfull

legislation".

Estonia's Justice Minister Rein Lang recently

introduced draft legislation to the Estonian Parliament that would oblige

journalists to reveal the sources of the information they use. If adopted by the

Parliament, the new law would enable courts to jail journalists who fail to

reveal their sources and to impose fines on newspapers solely on the suspicion

that they intend to publish "potentially harmful information".

The proposed law is being strongly opposed by the Estonian

Newspaper Association (EALL). On 18 March, all of the six major national

newspapers in Estonia took part in a coordinated joint action to protest against

the draft law. Three of the newspapers left their front page blank, except for a

short text expressing their opposition to the draft law. The other three titles

did the same with inside pages.

The Estonian press is also supported by the European

Newspaper Publishers' Association (ENPA), the World Association of Newspapers

and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and the World Editors Forum.

The EFJ and these organisations have sent a joint letter

(sent on 29 March) to the President of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, calling on

him "to do everything possible to ensure that the proposed unprecedented draft

law is rejected in its current form and that amendments are introduced to

provide full protection for journalists' sources". They urge President Ilves to

take "all necessary steps" to ensure that Estonia "fully respects its

international obligations and standards of press freedom".

Press and journalists' organisations are afraid that the

proposed law would have a significant negative impact on investigative

journalism and articles based on information provided by whistleblowers.

Furthermore, the draft law is in clear conflict with Estonia's treaty

obligations, international standards of professional practice and codes of

journalism ethics, including The Code of Ethics of the Estonian Press.

European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) The EFJ is the European group of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). The EFJ represents about 250,000 journalists in over thirty countries. The EFJ is recognized by the European Union, the Council of Europe and the European Trade Union Confederation as the representative voice of journalists in Europe.
Contact: Marc Gruber, European Federation of Journalists
Tel: + 32 2 235 22 00 / e-mail: marc.gruber@ifj.org

European Newspaper Publishers’ Association (ENPA) ENPA represents over 5,200 national, regional and local newspaper titles, published in 25 European countries. More than 150 million newspapers are sold or distributed and read by over 300 million Europeans every day, in addition to the tens of millions of unique daily visits to newspapers’ websites.
More information about ENPA can be found at www.enpa.be
Contact: Ben Carlin, European Policy Advisor
Tel: +32 2 551 01 90 / e-mail: ben.carlin@enpa.be

World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) WAN-IFRA is the global organization for the world’s newspapers and news publishers, with formal representative status at the United Nations, UNESCO and the Council of Europe. The organization groups 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries.
More information about WAN-IFRA can be found at www.wan-ifra.org
Contact: Larry Kilman, Director of Communications and Public Affairs
Tel: +33 6 10 28 97 36 / e-mail: larry.kilman@wan-ifra.org