Media freedom is threatened

European Charter for Freedom of the Press

On May 25, 2009, 48 editors-in-chief and leading journalists from 19 countries adopted and signed the “European Charter for Freedom of the Press” in Hamburg.

In ten articles it formulates principles for the freedom of the media against state interference, in particular for protection against surveillance, eavesdropping and searches of editorial offices and computers as well as for the free access of journalists and citizens to all domestic and foreign sources of information.

The aim is to ensure that the Charter is valid throughout Europe and to make its recognition a condition for EU enlargement negotiations. The charter was presented to the EU Commission in Brussels on June 9, 2009 and to the Council of Europe in Luxembourg on October 26, 2009.

European Charter for Freedom of the Press

Art. 1
The freedom of the press is vital to a democratic society. Respecting and protecting journalistic media of all kinds, respecting their diversity as well as their political, social and cultural tasks, is the mandate of all state power.

Art. 2
Censorship is prohibited. Independent journalism in all media is free from persecution and reprisals without guaranteeing political or regulatory intervention by the state. The press and online media must not be subject to state licensing.

Art. 3
The right of journalists and the media to collect and disseminate information and opinions must not be threatened, restricted or made a criminal offense.

Art. 4
The protection of journalistic sources must be strictly observed. Searches of editorial offices and other rooms of journalists as well as surveillance and eavesdropping activities with the purpose of locating sources of information or breaking editorial secrecy are not permitted.

Art. 5
All states must ensure that the media enjoy the full protection of an independent judicial system, the law and the authorities in the performance of their duties. This applies in particular to the defense against harassment and attacks on life and limb of journalists and their employees. Threats or violations of these rights must be carefully investigated and punished by the judiciary.

Art. 6
The economic existence of the media must not be jeopardized by state or state-influenced institutions or other organizations. The threat of economic damage is also inadmissible. Private companies must respect the journalistic freedom of the media. You may not put pressure on journalistic content, nor try to mix promotional content with journalistic content.

Art. 7
State and state-influenced institutions must not hinder the free access of the media and journalists to information. You are obliged to support their information mission.

Art. 8
The media and journalists have the right to unhindered access to all news and information sources, including those from abroad. Foreign journalists must be issued with visas, accreditations and other necessary documents for reporting without delay.

Art. 9
The public of every state is to be granted free access to all national and foreign media and information sources.

Art. 10
The state cannot restrict access to the journalist profession.