20 December 2006
Four special mandates on freedom of expression issue joint declaration addressing key issues
(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - The following is an ARTICLE 19 press release:
4 SPECIAL MANDATES ON FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION ISSUE JOINT DECLARATION TODAY
The four international mandates on freedom of expression - the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, the OAS Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and the ACHPR Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression - released a Joint Declaration addressing key freedom of expression issues today. These include the publication of confidential information by the media, openness at international public bodies, freedom of expression and cultural/religious tensions and impunity in the face of attacks on journalists. Law Programme Director Toby Mendel said:
"ARTICLE 19 is delighted that these mandates are working together to set standards on current freedom of expression issues. We are particularly pleased to see them recognise the obligation of international public bodies to be open, an obligation which has long been acknowledged in relation to national public bodies."
Some important points in the Joint Declaration are the following:
- Journalists should not be held liable for publishing information which is leaked to them.
- International public bodies should adopt openness policies which recognise the public's right to request and receive information, subject only to limited exceptions. Such policies should also provide for a right to appeal to an independent body where access is refused.
- The media play a key role in promoting tolerance and diffusing social tensions. It is up to them to decide how to report on these tensions and this should not be regulated by law.
- States have an obligation to condemn and investigate promptly and effectively any attacks on journalists or others exercising their right to freedom of expression.
NOTES TO EDITORS
- The OSCE is the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the OAS is the Organization of American States and the ACHPR is the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights. The three mandates at the UN, OSCE and OAS have issued a Joint Declaration every year since 1999. The ACHPR mandate, established just last year, has participated in the process for the first time this year.
- The full 2006 Joint Declaration is available at: http://www.article19.org/pdfs/standards/four-mandates-dec-2006.pdf