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RESTRICTIVE COURT RULING SPURS DEMAND FOR RIGHT TO PUBLISH PHOTOGRAPHS

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), an International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) affiliate, is supporting a petition for the right to information through pictures and the right to publish news photographs.

The International Festival of Photojournalism "Visa pour l'Image" and the French weekly magazine "Paris Match" launched the Perpignan Call following a recent decision by the European Court of Human Rights that publishing a photograph of a personal attack, even when it's a political event, requires prior authorisation from the victim's relatives.

The case followed the 1998 publication by "Paris Match" of a photograph of Claude Erignac, a French official in Corsica, lying in the street after he was shot in the back. Erignac's family brought the magazine to court, arguing that publishing the photo intruded on their rights to privacy and to grieve.

Such photos "may cause distress but they have news value," said EFJ chair Arne König. "This ruling goes against the principle of press freedom."

By banning the use of violent pictures within the European Union, the Perpignan Call says, the Strasbourg-based court ruling "deprived the European public (alone) of the right to be given news by the media on events of such fundamental importance for democracy as the assassination of an official representative of the state." The ruling would be appealed, it said.

During recent protests in Burma led by Buddhist monks, authorities tried to stop journalists and the public from taking pictures, the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) reported. Police seized cameras and digital memory cards to prevent photos of military repression from reaching the outside world.

Visit these links:
- EFJ story: http://www.ifj.org/default.asp?index=5387&Language=EN
- The Perpignon call (in French and English): http://www.visapourlimage.com/anglais/appel.php3
- The petition: http://tinyurl.com/33axkd
- SEAPA: http://www.seapabkk.org/
(16 October 2007)

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