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The Committee to Protect Journalists makes the following recommendations to promote in China a level of press freedom that is in accordance with international norms.
To the International Olympic Committee (IOC):
• Even at this late date, insist that the Chinese government fully meet its promises of press freedom for the 2008 Olympic Games. Ensure that commitment is extended to domestic journalists.
To the government of China:
• Meet the pledge made to the IOC to remove media restrictions. In particular, eliminate restrictions on local journalists, who face more severe constraints than they did before China was awarded the Games in 2001.
• Honor the liberalized travel and interview rules governing foreign media. These rules were ignored and the press was restricted during March demonstrations and unrest involving Tibet. Extend these liberalized rules beyond their October 2008 expiration date, and extend them to the domestic media. Use these rules as a baseline from which to move forward in expanding media freedom as quickly as possible.
• Release all journalists currently imprisoned for their work. China is the world’s leading jailer of journalists, with at least 26 writers and editors in prison as of May 1, 2008. For them to be in jail when the Games begin on August 8, 2008, would make a travesty of China’s pledge of greater press freedom and the IOC’s acceptance of that pledge.
• In the broadest sense, stop censoring news. Dismantle the archaic system of media control that has evolved over several decades. Halt Internet censorship and monitoring activities and let information flow freely on every digital platform.
• Allow Chinese journalists to work as reporters for foreign news outlets. Chinese journalists may work only as assistants to foreign reporters now.
• End the pattern of violent retribution meted out by local officials and others angered by critical media coverage. Bring to justice all those responsible for such attacks. The privileged and powerful should not be able to use violence to cow journalists.
• End the use of state secret and national security laws to imprison journalists.
• Decriminalize defamation laws. Reform civil defamation laws to prevent abuse by public figures and corporations.
• Allow journalists to form an independent professional organization. The officially sanctioned All-China Journalists Association has failed to address their needs.
• Ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which China signed in 1998. Article 19 of the Covenant states: “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.”
• As a member of the United Nations, honor Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
To international media organizations covering the Games:
• Use all means to insist that China honor its media pledges to the IOC and extend to Chinese journalists the same freedoms that visiting journalists enjoy.
• Ensure that all employees are aware of the restrictions and risks faced by Chinese colleagues and sources.
To the corporate sponsors and partners of the IOC:
• Use your influence with Chinese and IOC officials to ensure that China fulfills its pledges on media freedom. Insist that the IOC speak out on press freedom violations.