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On World Press Freedom Day, IPI calls for all governments to reject attempts to limit press freedom

(IPI/IFEX) - The following is an IPI press release:

On World Press Freedom Day, IPI Calls for all Governments to Reject Attempts to Limit Press Freedom

Vienna, 2 May 2008 - "On the eve of World Press Freedom Day, 3 May 2008, IPI calls upon all governments to combat limitations on press freedom and to work harder at ensuring that the media is able to report on issues of public interest," said IPI Director David Dadge.

"We are very worried that, while there is a growing coalition of countries actively seeking to suppress this freedom, those countries who traditionally support press freedom have yet to wake up to the fact that it is under threat."

Over recent years, press freedom and freedom of expression have come under growing pressure from a coalition of Islamic countries seeking to limit this fundamental right in order to protect religion.

On 28 March, the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution forcing the UN Special Rapporteur on Free Expression to investigate instances where freedom of expression may have discriminated against race or religion.

The resolution places the Special Rapporteur in the difficult position of being both defender and prosecutor of press freedom, raising fears that this important role is slowly being eroded by countries who desire to protect religion.

In a previous session, the Human Rights Council passed a resolution urging governments to fight against the defamation of religions. The resolution is one of many passed by this body or its predecessor, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, since 1999.

Although the resolution is phrased in general terms, the campaign is being led by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) on behalf of Islamic countries. The phrase appears to create a new international form of defamation focusing on the defence of beliefs, as opposed to individuals, and could limit religious reporting.

IPI, the global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists, is dedicated to the furtherance and safeguarding of press freedom, the protection of freedom of opinion and expression, the promotion of the free flow of news and information, and the improvement of the practices of journalism.

For further information on the UN resolution on free expression and religion, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/92106

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