World Association of News Publishers

Resolution on Press Freedom in Established Democracies

Resolution on Press Freedom in Established Democracies

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The Board of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), meeting on 6 October 2013 in Berlin, Germany during the World Publishing Expo, expresses its growing concern over a rise in press freedom violations in established democracies and calls on all governments to recognise that freedom of the press is essential to good governance and indispensible to democratic society.

The Board of WAN-IFRA notes:

  • In May 2013, the Associated Press learned that the US Department of Justice made an unauthorized seizure of records of its telephone calls, potentially revealing communications between its journalists and their sources.
  • Also in May, a French court ordered the news organisations Le Point and Mediapart to remove all copies and transcriptions of recordings made at the home L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, and forbade future publication, effectively creating judicial censorship of material in the public interest.
  • In August 2013, the threat of legal action by the United Kingdom government led the staff of The Guardian newspaper to destroy computer equipment in relation to leaked files supplied by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden. In a separate but related incident, the partner of the Guardian journalist responsible for breaking the NSA story was held without charge for nine hours under British anti-terrorism legislation and had his computer and other personal belongings seized.
  • Also in August 2013, authorities in Switzerland searched the private residence of award-winning journalist Ludovic Rocchi, confiscating computer equipment and notebooks after the journalist exposed alleged plagiarism at the University of Neuchâtel – a search that a court subsequently ruled was illegal.

The Board of WAN-IFRA calls on democratic governments to protect the freedom of the press and to recognise that acts of intimidation and surveillance risk undermining the fabric of transparent, accountable governance.

Furthermore, the Board notes that such actions by democratic governments embolden oppressive regimes to use such practices to silence independent voices or those critical of government.

The Board of WAN-IFRA therefore calls on all governments to actively uphold the fundamental human right of freedom of expression, to preserve the freedom of the press, and to be vigilant in protecting it now and for future generations.


Andrew Heslop's picture

Andrew Heslop


2013-10-03 14:14

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