The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ),
the European group of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), today
expressed its support for the newspaper Le Monde which has lodged a
formal complaint with the French courts to identify who ordered an illegal
police investigation to identify the source of information in the ‘Woerth
Bettencourt' affair. The EFJ further backed s French journalists' unions which
have denounced the government for interference in media affairs.
"If it turns out that the Head of
State ordered a police investigation to identify the source of
information in the 'Woerth Bettencourt-' case, then he not only reneged on
his public promises when adopting the law on protection of sources,
but he is also guilty of a flagrant violation of freedom of the press, "
said EFJ General Secretary Aidan White.
The protection of
journalistic sources, provided for under Article 10 of the European
Convention on Human Rights is the cornerstone of press freedom in Europe and
enshrined as such by the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights
(ECHR). In France, a law on protection of sources was enacted on 4 January
The EFJ is further
concerned about a series of abuses that have occurred recently in France. The
cases of journalists working for Le Point and L'Equipe are
currently pending before the ECHR to which both the EFJ and the National
Union of Journalists (Syndicat National des Journalistes, SNJ) have
submitted their comments under the third party intervention
procedure. More recently, the online Médiapart has sued Xavier Bertrand , the Secretary General of the ruling party, UMP, for
defamation because he accused the journalists of using "fascist methods".
The latest case brought by Le Monde, with
the support of the SNJ and SNJ-CGT, has been lodged against an unknown
defendant "X", using a special procedure under French law that enables the
courts to investigate the identity of X.
The EFJ says that, despite its protection under the
law across Europe, protection of sources is increasingly undermined in the name
of "state security", through the abuse of power and with the help of
new technologies that track electronic communications. In France, the fact that
the highest authorities of the State can ask the police to investigate
journalists justifies perfectly the fears of the profession.
"We call for total transparency and respect for the
law on protection of sources," added White.
The EFJ represents unions of journalists in Europe. In France its
members are SNJ, SNJ-CGT and CFDT USJ.
Statement by the SNJ: http://www.snj.fr/article.php3?id_article=978
For more information, please contact the EFJ at 32 2 235
The EFJ represents over 250,000 journalists in 30
countries in Europe