New York, October 28, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on Britain's three main political parties to reconsider a royal charter that would establish a new press regulator in the United Kingdom. The Privy Council, the assembly that formally advises the Queen, is scheduled to review on Wednesday the proposed charter agreed by the three parties.
New York, October 16, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned by U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron's statement today in which he urged members of parliament to investigate whether the Guardian had broken the law or damaged national security by publishing the NSA files.
Dear Prime Minister David Cameron: The U.K.'s use of anti-terror laws to seize journalistic material from David Miranda, partner and assistant to Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald, is deeply troubling and not in keeping with the U.K's historic commitment to press freedom. We call on you to launch a thorough and transparent investigation and to ensure that his confiscated equipment and data are returned at once.
Dear Prime Minister Cameron: You recently spoke out in defense of press freedom in Africa by raising the case of an imprisoned Somali journalist when you met with Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. The journalist was subsequently released. The moral authority of a British prime minister to mount such a defense stems in part from Britain's history of nearly 300 years without government regulation of the press.
The Leveson inquiry, begun in 2011 after revelations of phone-hacking and other ethical lapses by the press, drew to a close with the issuance of a lengthy report that proposed the creation of an independent regulatory body backed by statute. Critics, including CPJ, warned that statutory regulation would infringe on press freedom; Prime Minister David Cameron urged instead that the industry strengthen self-regulation. Some progress was made toward the reform of libel laws, which are highly unfavorable to journalists because they allow for “libel tourism,” the practice of filing claims based on minimum circulation within the United Kingdom even when plaintiffs and defendants are not based there. Libel legislation introduced in May would limit long and costly proceedings and make it easier for frivolous cases to be quickly dismissed. Press freedom advocates said such reform would be an important step forward, but urged lawmakers to strengthen public-interest defense and protect Internet service providers. The measure was pending in the House of Lords in late year. In June, the Home Office proposed a measure to increase government surveillance of all online communications. The proposal met with strong criticism--detractors called it the “snooper’s charter”--and a Parliamentary review committee dismissed it as excessive. The government sought to allow Sweden to extradite Julian Assange for questioning in an alleged assault, prompting the WikiLeaks founder to take refuge in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London. One journalist in Belfast was threatened in 2012, and the 11-year-old murder of Irish reporter Martin O’Hagen remained unsolved.
Dear Prime Minister Cameron: In anticipation of your meeting with Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud next week, we would like to bring to your attention recent actions taken by the Somali government, as well as the increasing number of unsolved journalist murders in the country.
Do you believe the free flow of information must be protected? Sign the #RightToReport petition and demand that President Obama immediately:
1. Issue a presidential policy directive prohibiting the hacking and surveillance of journalists and media organizations.
2. Limit aggressive prosecutions that ensnare journalists and intimidate whistleblowers.
3. Prevent the harassment of journalists at the U.S. border.
Or click here to see the full petition, and join leading journalists like Christiane Amanpour, The Guardian’s Alan Rusbridger, Editor of the AP Kathleen Carroll, and Arianna Huffington in signing on.