London based photographers
staged a Flashmob outside the city hall in London on World Press Freedom Day to
denounce arbitrary restrictions on their work in the city where banning of photography
in many public spaces is enforced by private security guards.
The event was
organised by the ‘I am a Photographer Not a Terrorist (PHNAT) campaign group which
is supported by the National Union of Journalists in Great Britain and Ireland (NUJ) and
its London Photographers' Branch.
"The ban on
photography is an arbitrary measure which frustrates photojournalists' work and
our colleagues are rightly dismayed that it is still in place, "said IFJ
President Jim Boumelha. " The event in London was a powerful message to the authorities
to change course and lift all unnecessary restrictions on media work."
photographers attended the PHNAT Flashmob event on Tuesday to highlight the ban's adverse impact
on photographers' work in many public places across the city. They took pictures
in areas where police still claim powers to prevent photography. The
organisers also delivered a letter to the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, demanding
action on creeping restrictions of press freedom in the capital.
The PHNAT is
concerned about the role of private security guards in the prevention of
terrorism which has been promoted by police, with the result that many
privately employed guards are illegally preventing citizens from taking any
photographs at all.
Areas designated as public realm are often privately managed spaces that are
subject to rules laid down by the private management companies. Most insidious
of these is the outright banning of photography in some of the most popular
public spaces, such as Canary Wharf and the Thames Walk between Tower Bridge
and City Hall.
belief that working journalists can be denied the right to work in public
spaces and there is little wonder why our colleagues felt the need to fight
back," added Boumelha. "This makes the mockery of the authorities' claim to
respect press freedom."
The IFJ has
supported the campaign by the NUJ to change anti-terrorism legislation, in
particular Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000, which has been found by the European
Court of Human Rights to breach Article 8 of the European Convention on Human
Rights (right to respect for private and family life). The section was suspended
pending a review of counter-terrorism powers, including the use of terrorism
legislation in relation to photography.
The review was
prompted by complaints from photographers over harassment by police
‘stop-and-search' powers. The coalition government has now reintroduced remedial
orders reinstating these measures which journalists say will impede their work
in covering public events, especially during protests against the government's austerity
information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 07
The IFJ represents more than
600.000 members in 131 countries