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OSCE study shows need for better laws to protect investigative journalism in wake of security tightening

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is a 7 May 2007 media release of the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), an IFJ regional group:

EFJ Says New Study Shows EU Needs Better Laws to Protect Investigative Journalism

At a time when the press is increasingly under surveillance and widespread tightening of security and surveillance measures have endangered the "watchdog" role of journalists, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the regional group of the International Federation of Journalists, welcomes the recently published survey on media access to information published by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

The study comes just as the European Union reviews its own instrument on access to documents, EC regulation 1049 of 30 May 2001, and the European Parliament considers a resolution on the protection of sources.

"At a time when governments are prosecuting journalists in order to find and silence whistleblowers, we think that there needs to be European-wide agreement that protection of sources is a basic right and necessary to have true media freedom in a country," said EFJ General Secretary Aidan White. "Journalists should be able to offer their readers and viewers a clear and independent look at the workings of government without fear of prosecution."

The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Miklos Haraszti, said that the study shows that the public has more access to information than ever before, but weak laws and recent prosecutions of reporters and media organisations have diminished journalists' investigative abilities.

During 2006 the European Federation of Journalists complained to the European Commission and Parliament about a number of instances of illegal tapping of journalists' phones in the Netherlands, about the placing of spies in the newsrooms of German media and about the prosecution of journalists in Denmark who wrote stories that embarrassed the government.

Access to Information, transparency and protection of sources are main elements of the EFJ/IFJ quality in journalism campaign. To find out more about the campaign, go to: http://www.ifj.org/default.asp?Issue=QUALITY&Language=EN

The OSCE survey in full, with all country reports, is available at: http://www.osce.org/documents/rfm/2007/05/24251_en.pdf

The EFJ represents over 260,000 journalists in more than 30 countries.

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