IFJ Backs Photojournalists' Fight Back against Arbitrary Ban in London

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."

Around 5O

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. 

"It beggars

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


For more

information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 07

The IFJ represents more than

600.000 members in 131 countries