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
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: email@example.com
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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: email@example.com