EFJ Condemns Actions by French Government against Journalists’ Rights

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