IFJ Condemns New Attack on Journalists' Sources in UK

The

International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its European group, the

European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) today joined their affiliate, the

National Union of Journalists in the UK and Ireland

(NUJ), in condemning the secrecy of

a preliminary hearing at a court in Belfast dealing with an application

submitted by the Police Service in Northern Ireland

(PSNI) to force Belfast journalist Suzanne Breen to hand over confidential

material.

Judge

Tom Burgess heard the evidence which was not made available to Ms Breen or her

legal team and ruled that he "was minded to grant the application" but said he can

still change his mind when he hears the full case which is anticipated to take

place at the Recorder's Court on Friday May 29th.

"Protection

of sources is a cardinal principle of journalism and Suzanne Breen's right to

resist must be supported by every affiliate of the IFJ," said Jim Boumelha, IFJ

President. "This is one of numerous cases where journalists have put themselves

on the line to protect confidential sources, a critical tool for investigative

reporters, and where the judicial system is used to intimidate journalists."

According

to reports, the closed hearing on the PSNI application to force Suzanne Breen

and the Dublin-based Sunday Tribune to hand over confidential material was held

on Friday and neither the journalist's nor the paper's legal teams were present.



The

police are seeking a court order on Ms Breen to surrender her notes, recording

material, mobile phone and other material relating to the Real IRA.

The

IFJ says that the protection of sources is a right guaranteed by the European

Convention on Human Rights and has been consistently upheld by the European Court of

Human Rights.

"We

are deeply concerned by the failure to avail our colleagues with the

opportunity to defend such a fundamental right in this application," added

Boumelha.

The

NUJ points out that Suzanne Breen

and her legal team will have to prepare their response "with their hand tied

behind their back". "It is bad enough that a journalist should be faced with

the prospect of going to jail in order to protect confidential sources of

information but to face such a threat based on evidence given in private is an

affront to the principles of natural justice." said NUJ

Irish Secretary Séamus Dooley.

Strategies

for a major campaign to defend Ms Breen and the Sunday Tribune will be discussed at the forthcoming annual meeting of the European Federation of Journalists

taking place in Varna (Bulgaria) at

the week end.

The

EFJ recently published a policy document on protection of sources in Europe available at: http://europe.ifj.org/en/articles/efj-policy-document-on-protection-of-sources

For more information contact the IFJ

at   +32 2 235 2207

The IFJ represents over 600,000

journalists in 123 countries worldwide